Hella Jongerius b. 1963
"I look at what old techniques can teach us in the light of the present capacities of industry." Occupying a rare lofty place in an industry dominated by men, Dutch product designer Hella Jongerius, along with her contemporary, Patricia Urquiola, is amongst the most influential forces on the contemporary design scene. Wielding a keen eye for visually and texturally nuanced products that bear traces of hand application, Jongerius has produced a formidable and distinctive body of work that spans every category of industrial design, and projects as diverse as an award-winning interior design commission from the United Nations and a self-initiated limited edition jewelry collection. A graduate of Holland's Eindhoven Design Academy, Jongerius first made waves for her association with the Dutch design collective, Droog Design, and has worked steadily from her own studio, Jongeriuslab, distinguishing herself with an esthetic of opposites: "industry and craft, high and low tech, tradition and the contemporary." The reference is primarily to Jongerius' penchant for injecting handmade elements—visible stitching; knitted furniture covers; fabric woven from knots and beads—into mass produced objects, marking her as a self-described "misfit' in an industry galvanized by the pursuit of perfection. Jongerius' instinct for unexpected material applications is illustrated elegantly in her recent reinterpretation of Alvar Aalto's Armchair 401 for Artek—in which color blocked textiles and and darker wood finishes imbued a revered classic with an added dimension of "depth and warmth," the likes of which Aalto would, no doubt, have approved.