Office Pets by Hella Jongerius



Hella Jongerius has updated her website to include her Office Pets project commissioned by Vitra Edition last year.


The limited edition pieces are made mostly by hand from materials associated with the corporate environment. Details like the wheels reference furniture usually found in offices.


See more from Vitra Edition 2007 in our earlier story.

Here's some information from Jongeriuslab:


Office Pets

Date: 2007
commissioned by: Vitra, Basel
Type: Limited edition

For Vitra Edition 2007 Hella Jongerius designed three curious wheeled objects - Office Pets - combining worlds of difference. The underside, the wheels and the material used make each object seem at home in the context of corporate identities. But at the point where you would expect seats and armrests emerge semi-abstract shapes which allude both to Jongerius’ vases and animal figures. These strange office creatures combine rationality and imagination as if they were quantities which always and self-evidently belong together.


Office Pets not only provide office staff a light-hearted escape from their tightly organised office life, but also represent a new stage in design. Jongerius as it were pushes a slowly developed phenomenon beyond its ‘natural’ boundaries. In the last half century the word ‘functionality’ has practically lost its original instrumental meaning. Contemporary design is concerned with image, context, meanings and messages rather than immediate utility and use.


In 2007 we ask so much more from products than the serviceability that was the central feature of industrial design at the beginning of the 20th century. Appliances also feed our minds and our imagination, we feel a need to cherish them as if they were living beings. This shift in the significance of design has led the profession in many respects to seek support from the visual arts professions. Yet Jongerius explicitly calls herself an industrial designer, not an artist. Her ‘pets’ could be said to disentangle the contemporary meaning of functionality. ‘We express who we are by the furniture, the appliances and the accessories with which we surround ourselves day by day. There is hardly any point in making a fundamental distinction between these different things. All of them, in their own way, are necessary, functional’.


While these strange objects apparently herald a new direction in Jongerius’ work, their content actually makes them very easy to place. All her work is characterised by an experimental feeling for the boundaries of the design profession, with a crucial role being played by materials, methods of production and their intrinsic meanings and allusions. Steering a middle course between one-off traditionally made objects and industrially produced series has yielded many famous designs, including the B-service for Tichelaar (in which excessively high kiln temperatures led to the creation of unique examples in an industrial production process) and Repeat, an unusual fabric design for the textile producer Maharam.

Office Pets form the daring but logical next stage in Jongerius’ career. They are produced in a limited edition, mostly handcrafted, while at the same time alluding to serially produced office chairs. The animals, which recall Jongerius’ designs for Nymphenburg and Maharam, seem to have just escaped from a pretty parable into the commercial world of the open-plan office to make a powerful appeal to the imagination - a pre-eminent human need.

Posted on Thursday May 29th 2008 at 5:42 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • K. Rimane

    ah Hella, you’re truly inspiring.

  • Fling

    What we need in our office is a humourous Office Pet, just to brighten up our miserable dehumanising surroundings. Some workers have resorted to pale imitations of this designer approach by painting faces onto staplers and hole punches, to no avail.
    I wonder will we ever get any work done ever again, because most of our days will be spent trying to fight the distraction of cuddling and chatting to this loveable interloper treading a fine line between a re-ordering of corporate sensible motifs and useless tat. I’m sure the novelty of this Item will never fade as it unprofitably occupies the x ft2 of prime office space day in, day out. Never.

  • Very “women love it” kind of objects, quality of details not as i aspected (looking last shot), anyway very Droog.

  • cedric

    ahh Fling.. i love your cynicism..
    sledging every post with practicality .. i love it.

  • Frankie

    Completely agree with Fling ^


    This shift away from functionality pisses me off especially when she vindicates it being Industrial design, grab a f***ing dictionary !

  • Hahahaha agree w Cedric here. Can’t miss Fling’s words in every post.

  • renee

    well, i can imagine this after few seasons in the attic full with dust. it seems a duty of renown brands/designers to invent items without a particular purpose.

  • cpcp

    haha Fling you crack me up

  • zuy

    hello chantal thomass, are you dutch now!

  • Parker

    Sit Fling sit!

  • zuy
  • zuy

    she is working like hayon or starck with a pen or a pencil … like de lucchi or sottsass before ….to be a design star you dunnot need a computer but a good PR

  • charles

    ahhhhhhhhh, its so KAWAII.
    I would buy it if I had alot of unnecessary money and alot of unnecessary space in my unnecessary 1000sq.ft luxury apartment/condo and a cheasy girlfriend that wants whatever thats unpractical and cute.

    Its such a nice dust collector.

    Again, without sarcasm, i would buy one if I had all those money, space and capability.

  • colby

    Posts like this infuriate me — not because Dezeen puts them on [I enjoy seeing what people are doing around the world], but because it seems that there are a lot of well-publicized designers who seem to say to themselves, “Okay, it’s 2008: I need to design SOMETHING, even if it’s crap.” Or Vitra should say, “Hella, we know we commissioned you to do something new, but this is crap.” At least Dezeen readers have a critical/judgmental eye. The design press will do full-page features of mess like this because it’s from Hella Jongerius/Vitra, not because it’s actually good.

  • zuy

    i red in an article “female are the future of design” ….Do you think so?

  • zuy

    Colby Dezeen readers have a critical/judgmental eye except for Starck
    i dunnot know why?

  • cammy

    I think if you took a similar design but put it in bright colours it could be a cute toy box for a kids’ room. Useless in the office though.