July 22, 2013



In the home country of Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, the word 'polder' refers to low-lying flatlands, typically subdivided into fields serving various agricultural purposes, that have been reclaimed from the sea by means of dykes and drainage canals. With their flat surfaces, low-slung body and horizontal emphasis, both Polder sofas evoke the characteristic features of the polder landscape. 
The large seat cushions of the Polder Sofa and Polder Compact form an extremely comfortable, asymmetrical seating surface that is flanked on both sides by the upholstered body. The shape of the body is what distinguishes the two sofas: a low armrest is integrated on one end of the Polder Sofa, while the other is bordered by an adjoining platform that also serves as a storage surface for magazines, books or trays. The Polder Sofa thus offers plenty of space to stretch out and relax, whether sitting or lying down. The Polder Compact, by contrast, features a body with two armrests in different heights, which demarcate the smaller dimensions of the sofa. The higher armrest also makes it possible to sit comfortably in a sideways position – either for reading or watching television.
With their distinctively asymmetrical structure, both Polder sofas can be optionally configured with the higher armrest on the left or right side, making them adaptable to different spatial settings. Since the platform for the Polder Sofa is separately available, it can also be used as an ottoman.
The upholstered cushions and body of the sofas are covered with fabrics in carefully coordinated hues and weaves: shades of green, red, golden yellow or night blue. In place of standard upholstery fabrics, textiles developed exclusively for Vitra by Hella Jongerius are used as cover materials – thereby intensifying the subtle interplay of colours and textures that typifies the design.
A striking detail is added by the buttons, which were conceived by Jongerius as a collage of coloured plastic, aluminium and leather. They not only provide an attractive contrast to the soft woven fabrics, but also facilitate the easy removal of the upholstery covers for cleaning, thanks to a simple fastening device.
You may reach the another design news of Hella Jongerius's Vitra East River Chair to click below link from my blog.


Author Louise Schouwenberg

10. January 2009
Louise Schouwenberg: For functionality, we can formulate very concrete quality criteria, but added value is harder to understand. Added value becomes a plaything of marketplace effects, vulnerable to manipulation and illusion. In the course of the 20th century, design increasingly revolved around a hard-to-define added value, and communications and the media became very important. It was not the real products, but their representation in the pages of glossy magazines that convinced customers of their desirability and their market value. That in turn had consequences for what was produced. The media demand strong, iconographic images and a recognizable style from a designer. However, in the last few years, that is no longer enough. In design, as in the fine arts, people are seriously searching for a different kind of added value. Perhaps you could call it an inherent value, added value that has to be found in the physical quality of products, the materials, the manufacturing, and the details. That has produced a curious tension between the illusory image in the media and the physical attractiveness of the product itself. How do you deal with that tension?
Hella Jongerius: For me, it is not such a contradiction. Virtually all my work is about the process of making it and the attention to materials and details. My products literally happen in my own hands, not in my head, as an idea or mental image. Obviously, I am a child of my own times. I too want to define a clearly recognizable line in my work, find my own signature. Clearly, I am aware of the importance of strong images, but all that is contained in the products themselves, both in the concepts that underlie them and in the way they are realized and finished. For the plates I designed for Nymphenburg, I wanted to show the craftsmanship and all the choices and possibilities that the firm traditionally represents. Idea, image and production all come together. Every handmade plate is, as it were, the painter’s palette, with which the manufacturer works. The same thing was true for the Polder Sofa. My image of that piece says something about its different layers, about having diverse options and about the past. You can literally experience that through the different textiles, the nuances in colour, the differences in textures and, for example, the old buttons that we found at rummage sales and secondhand stores.
LS: Products communicate a story or idea and are made with the greatest possible care. That strikes me as a condition for every design.
HJ: That is not as obvious or logical as it seems. I am aware that today, a lot of companies and designers talk about the narrative character of designs. Sometimes it is even literally stated in the commission or assignment that they are looking for an emotional design. These are hollow concepts, and they lead to inflation. But that does not mean that when we first began investigating that, 15 years ago, it did not bring important insights. Design can tell a story. At the same time, you risk the story becoming more important than the product. Here, the media play a more important role. Because of the media, a discrepancy has arisen between the experience of the product in the picture and the experience of the physical product. For a lot of design, the picture is more important than the product itself.

LS: I will answer with the same question again: is it not simply time for products to function well again?
HJ: The answer is still no. It serves no purpose just to look back and regret the loss of functionality. Essentially design is not art but a service profession. That is still the case when you know that a product represents added value that transcends basic functionality. The strict concept of functionality – a chair is for people to sit in, a cupboard to store things in – was undermined over the course of the 20th century. You could say it was unmasked. As far back as modernism, things were not exclusively functional, but were also about something else. The ideology of form following function produced an exceptional number of recognizable icons that we can immediately link to Le Corbusier, Jean Prouvé, to Eileen Gray or Ray and Charles Eames. If their forms had actually simply followed function, wouldn't that be a lot more difficult?
LS: Is the only difference a question of style, with the modernists striving to achieve sober designs and the postmodernists more expressive styles?
HJ: No, you cannot say that. The modernists did have a handwriting of their own, their own sober style, but they always closely allied that sobriety with what they saw as the essence of the profession of design. They had an ideology. Functionality was their most important theme, but they also examined the issue of whether or not something could be reproduced and with what ingenious technical inventions that could take place.
LS: That was their added value. They wanted to design affordable products that functioned well, that symbolized belief in progress by the way they were produced. Do you believe that today, the idea of added value has taken on a life of its own, that it has completely separated itself from the affiliated, functional character of the profession? From the latter half of the 20th century, we see how designers were increasingly designing products that attempt to establish themselves as autonomous works of art. They are narrative, conceptual, sculptural. Have we lost something here?
HJ: Absolutely. Design has to be coupled to the real needs of users, but also to the possibilities that are available for reproducing and manufacturing products. I realize that I am saying something dangerous here. In the last few decades, consumers have felt a need for mountains of knickknacks. If people surround themselves with all those throwaway products, sooner or later, it will have consequences for the way they feel and think about themselves. For them as well, a turning point has been reached. We look around us and see people asking themselves what is really important, in all kinds of areas. Design can take the lead by formulating a vision. But that vision has to remain close to the user. Design cannot only be about a designer’s need to express himself. That is ultimately a dead-end street. As a designer, if you have too much of a desire just to tell your own story, you run the risk of becoming an artist who is missing something.
LS: Now we come to the trend of the limited editions, by now both famous and maligned. They are wild explosions of form that want to attract the attention of the international media and put designers and manufacturers in the spotlight.
HJ: When you do not have to stop and consider reproduction in large numbers, when all you need to do is produce things as one-of-a-kinds or in small editions, you have the freedom to experiment. You can investigate themes without being restricted by production costs or expected target groups. That is unbelievably important. As a designer, you sometimes have to step back and recharge your batteries. But some designers have used limited editions as a goal in itself, not just as an experimental stage in the design process. As a result, existing designs are simply produced in outrageously expensive materials and signed by the designer. 
LS: To come back to your own challenge as a designer, how can you design products that are worth being treasured for a whole lifetime?
HJ: By focusing attention on the physical, tactile qualities of products. Together with all the evil excesses of the limited editions, they have brought the insight that beautiful materials and attentive production methods do add quality to products. They have also brought the insight that we should not just let local traditions disappear. In a globalized world, it is important to know where and how things are made. That does not have to be hidden in craftsmanship or traditional techniques, but can also be coupled with careful industrial production. That is something for which I have developed an increasing love over the last few years. With the limited editions, the fact that products were not produced in large numbers and that they were so outrageously expensive was rationalized because of the production. But as a designer, you can of course accept the challenge to industrially manufacture larger numbers with greater care, by coupling industrial production with hand finishing, for example, by bringing individuality and character into the industrial process. What the world wants are clear signs of care and scrupulousness.
LS: You could summarize that with the word attention. Apparently, there is a new desire for visible signs of attentiveness. Is that a feminine quality? Could we say that your work is characteristic of a female designer?
HJ: That is of no interest to me at all! I have no interest in labeling my work with terms like that. It just pushes it away with a false explanation for any meaning that it really possesses. People want to feel that they can cherish the things that they have around them. You have to give them a good reason for doing that. The attention that you devote to making something is one of those good reasons. Is that feminine? Well, yes, I happen to have breasts, but that is the only thing that I can say about it for certain. 

You may read Hella Jongerius whole conversation with Louise Schouwenberg to click above link of Vitra's web page.


Hella Jongerius, born 1963 in de Meern, Netherlands, studied design at the Industrial Design Academy in Eindhoven. She subsequently attracted international attention through her work for the Dutch design label Droog Design.

She taught at the Design Academy in Eindhoven from 1998-99, serving as head of the department Living/Atelier from 2000-04.

In 2000, she founded the design studio JongeriusLab in Rotterdam, where she creates, produced and markets many of her designs – primarily dishware, vases, textiles and furnishings.

Hella Jongerius' work often blurs the borders between design and handicrafts, or art and technology. Along with Jasper Morrison and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Hella Jongerius has made major contributions to the steadily growing Vitra Home Collection.