Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius @ The Design Museum

Our first trip of year 2 was to the Design Museum for Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius. This exhibition collects Hella’s body of work exploring colour together, which gives an overview of the way she perceives colour as well as the wide variety of materials she uses in order to achieve this. Jongerius (b. 1963, The Netherlands) is an Industrial designer. She studied, and later taught at The Design Academy in Eindhoven, and counts internationally renowned brands such as Ikea and KLM amongst her clients. 

Colour Wheel

This is interesting for its use of both a black background, which makes the colours really pop and also for the use of the warm white light from above, which washes the lighter colours out. Colour wise, it feels like there are quite a few missing, especially purple hues. 

Coloured Vases


Another interpretation of the colour wheel, the vases have all been glazed with one main colour, and then other colours overlaid. They have then been set out in a way that uses the additional colours to create a harmonious transition of colour from one vase to the next. It is interesting to see how the different glazes have overlaid in different ways with the base colours. 


This was part of a series exploring the way the eyes relationship with colour changes due to the differences in light over the course of a day. Initially, there is a calmness and a lightness to each tapestry but they become darker, more saturated and more frenetic towards the waning of the light. This carpet is quite close to the end of the day, and the yellow that surrounds the object has the warmth of artificial light to it, especially in contrast to the deep black that surrounds it. I was drawn to the well-defined shapes and the saturation. 


There are several pieces that feature coloured acrylic cubes, a couple of the others are arranged in circles and look somewhat like loading icons on computers! This one is a journey from light to dark, and I think it is interesting that it is laid out to turn a corner. Beside it is one of the various multi-faceted cardboard structures within the exhibit, where each face has been painted a slightly different shade to explore the shadows without the need for a light source on it. 


One final piece that caught  my eye was this wall mounted box. In it were various objects of different colours that you could interact with. The box had a phasing coloured light in it, in order to explore the how the eye is fooled into seeing an object as a different colour due to the light. In the above photo the pyramid appears brown but is actually red. 

In this exhibition, Jongerius explored every facet of colour; from what the eye truly see’s to what it is tricked into seeing and the role that light plays in how we see colour and experience the world. I found it fascinating and it led me to consider how I approach colour in my work in greater detail; that there is great importance to the choices I make and I should take more time over them. 

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