Movie: Dutch designer Hella Jongerius explains why she enjoys working with colours and textiles rather than designing full pieces of furniture in the third video interview we filmed at her studio in Berlin.
"It's just one solution for design, making stuff," says Jongerius, who works with Swiss furniture company Vitra as creative director of colours, textiles and surfaces. "You can do so much more with your talent and brains [as a designer]."
Jongerius has worked on refreshing the colour palette Swiss brand Vitra uses for its furniture, including famous designs by Charles and Ray Eames and Jean Prouvé.
"Vitra have great stuff," she says. "Why do they need me to create another piece of furniture? They need me on another level."
Jongerius says that she enjoys working with textiles for the same reason; they enable her to express her creativity without designing a new product from scratch.
"If you design a textile you don't have to design a full new piece," she says. "Just the skin can make the new design. That's why I find textiles interesting and also a nice subject for the future. There are not many designers that are good in textiles."
However, Jongerius says that many companies are resistant to using new colours or textiles in their products, valuing consistency and durability over quality of colour or texture.
"There are very many colours to choose from," she says. "But [the colours manufacturers use] only come from a certain scheme in the whole colour world: colours that do not change due to daylight. That's what they think consumers want, colours that stay the same from morning to the evening and I think that's really a mistake."
She continues: "Testing in the industrial world is really so outdated. It's all about the functional level. If you ask people if they care that a colour changes during the day, or if a fabric wears out after some years, I think there are many consumers who will see that as a quality."
"But still we are testing as if you are wearing velcro on your jeans all the time, or you [will] invite an elephant to sit on your armrest. A lot is lost because of the testing."
Despite the difficulty in convincing manufacturers to change their approach to colours and materials, Jongerius believes it is a worthwhile pursuit.
"It's very difficult to sell," she says. "But it's a topic where I can use my brains and talent to change something in the industrial world. If you design the skin you have a new product and you don't have to have a whole new table or a whole new sofa."