Hella Jongerius weaves the cosmos at the Gropius Bau in Berlin
Sustainable innovation, craftsmanship, responsible production and our relationship with objects and nature are recurring themes in the work of Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. A new series of textile experiences and an exhibition at the Gropius Bau in Berlin, “Hella Jongerius: Woven Cosmos” (April 29-August 15, 2021), presents a panoramic view of his reflection.
“I have always worked on the relationship between objects and human beings; objects are silent partners, there is a lot of healing in them, ”says Jongerius, whose work over the past three decades has touched industrial design, furniture, crafts, material explorations and chromatic research. .
Jongerius photographed at the Gropius Bau during the development of his exhibition. In the background, “ Forest ”, a piece from the “ Woven Systems ” series
Her continuous work with color has led her to collaborate with textile manufacturers Maharam and Kvadrat; to leave its mark on classic Vitra furniture by Jean Prouvé, Charles and Ray Eames; and design the North Delegates Lounge for the United Nations Headquarters in New York. These experiences, coupled with further research, resulted in exhibitions such as “ Color Machine ” at Milan Design Week in 2016 and “ Breathing Color ” at the Design Museum in London in 2017.
Exhibition ‘Hella Jongerius: Woven Cosmos’ at Gropius Bau
Jongerius is holding a silkscreened sketch, part of his Woven Systems series
The final chapter of his work focuses on weaving, a medium that allows Jongerius to explore some of these recurring themes, in particular sustainability, social responsibility, spirituality and “the healing function of objects”. The idea for the Gropius Bau exhibition developed after Jongerius spent time working on a digital loom, leaving her eager to study more experimental and performative weaving techniques. “Weaving is such a huge subject,” she notes. “ And I wanted to do it in a bigger field, so I called the show ‘Woven Cosmos’: I wanted to work with metaphors, to dive deeper into the future of weaving. ”
Presented as a work in progress, “ Woven Cosmos ” includes two new installations and more than 50 new objects created by Jongerius and his team between his Berlin studio and the neo-Renaissance rooms of the museum, with some pieces developed live on site. during the exhibition. Jongerius brought a multi-layered and personal approach to the project, including a spiritual session led by a local shaman in the atrium of the Gropius Bau before production began, which underlined the building’s vitality.
“ We are all threads in the greatest fabric, all intertwined ” – Hella Jongerius
The end result includes three-dimensional textile sculptures created with yarns spun from recycled materials – old stock from the textile industry, virgin cotton yarns, wool and paper used for weaving – alongside objects made of wood, glass and ceramic. Jongerius scoured the museum’s archives for materials to reuse and found four shades of sand from a recent exhibition by artist Lee Mingwei, three of which have now been used to create glass pieces for “ Woven Cosmos (a process carried out in Sweden and supervised by Jongerius on Zoom).
Studies for the ‘Space Amulets’ series, featuring various weaving materials and techniques
The exhibition has three living elements, interpreted by the designer and her team, Jongeriuslab, with the public invited to join us. The Cosmic Loom installation presents packages of recycled textile waste, made available to the team and visitors to spin a thread to add to the loom. Another project, titled Dancing a Yarn, invites the audience to be part of a choreographed workflow. Dancers who twist and twist alongside a machine, reproducing its movements, to create two strings. The resulting ropes are then tied together to form a ladder that “ pushes ” out of the building window and into the public space surrounding the museum.
Finally, Space Loom # 2 (a large-scale three-dimensional Jongerius loom previewed in a 2019 installation for Lafayette Anticipations in Paris), built by the designer and her collaborators from four looms, is activated during the living room to produce a new 3D. -woven objects called matrix modules.
The results are unpredictable, but, as the designer points out, “it’s not about the result, it’s about the process”. She continues: “For me it’s important that we research, and that what we do is limited across borders, that we have questions. But we do the creative work; we’re not just producing something that’s ready in our minds. This is also how it works in design and with other creative processes. ”
‘Web’ (shown unfinished), a work from the ‘Woven Systems’ series in cotton, silkscreen, various materials
Building a new set of works at the Gropius Bau site was a useful exercise for the team. “In the studio everything looks big, then we walk into the museum and it shrinks,” Jongerius explains. “So it’s really great that we can see the work on the right scale, in the right lights. I’m not there every day so my team has time to focus on a job without being constantly monitored. She characterizes the more intimate studio work as the “embryonic” stage of her projects and finds the duality between the two spaces and dimensions refreshing.
Jongerius’ shift from industrial design to a more experimental artisan dimension felt like a natural progression of his practice. From where she is now, she is able to communicate with a more open and critical audience who want to explore beyond what is currently possible.
“Handicrafts are now more relevant than ever; these ancient techniques not only have cultural and historical value, but also offer real solutions, ”she says. “A material never travels alone, it has a huge social and geopolitical agenda. To work towards a neutral carbon footprint, we need to rethink all of our materials, and that has a lot to do with craftsmanship. There is a huge revolution in my profession.
It is impossible to create work in 2021 without feeling the impact of the ongoing global pandemic, and for Jongerius that means observing the world both digitally and physically. Its restrictions and new rules, she says, “will have an echo in our objects and our materials.” This is also where weaving comes in: “It’s almost a cliché, but we’re all threads in the biggest fabric. We are all intertwined, it is a matter of connection. And that’s why weaving is a very strong metaphor for our current situation. §