IMG_0149Hella Jongerius is a Dutch designer whose meticulous research into colour and materials is documented in the exhibition ‘Breathing Colour’ at London’s Design Museum.  I was recommended this exhibition by my supervisor so on a very hot sunny Sunday I dragged my husband and two year old down to the newly vamped Design Museum, moved from riverside Bermondsey to Holland Park’s offshoot in the old Commonwealth building.

The new Design Museum is a really nice building to look at and two year old (and husband) LOVED the water fountains outside which he could wander through as they jetted up to the sky.

The permanent collections are free with displays on 3D printing, a walk through timeline of design classics and some nice displays on industrial design such as Jacquard weaving produced using punched cards, the computer generated textile. It was also good to see some work by Natalie Du Pasquier and Memphis, the Milan design collective she founded.

‘Breathing Colour’ as a collection of colour research is astounding. It was like looking at the contents of my head but beautifully displayed, much more coherently laid out and far more intelligent. I had to keep reminding myself that this series of work must have been made over many years and builds upon years of experience and knowledge. But it was truly splendid.


Jonegerius has used her knowledge of colour and how our perception of colours adjusts as light changes to produce a number of weavings depicting the same scene / object at different times of the day. This simple idea has been fantastically constructed from hazy misty sheer hangings that barely have any form in them at all to a dark, textured, almost demonic weaving with spikey tassles protruding out of it for the scene in the dark.

A separate room deals with evening light, displaying shades of blacks in an installation of objects and layers across the floor. More weavings, beautifully constructed, show off dark tones subtly composed together. A colour wheel of painted paper curls, like flowers with central stamens showing the two pigments used to create each hue, is vaguely lit.

In the central space a circle of pots, each glazed in bright arrays of colours makes some wonderful instagram snaps. On the wall are paintings with rectangular chops in them, the missing pieces of canvas laid next to them in a colour palette. This is Jongerius’ exploration of traditional methods of colour making.

A metamerism booth delights my two year old who moves the blocks from one light to another, now its orange, now its grey, now its blue.

The materials that Jongerius uses are varied. The transulcent, jelly like blocks that capture morning light hang and glisten. Metal juxtaposes against fabric. I really like the whole combination.

The colour catchers that dominate the space almost appear a bit like standing stones. They are there to demonstrate how colour perception changes depending on the space an object is in, the shape it is and the light cast on it. The shadows, folds and hollows within these geometric pots made from paper visualise the ways that changes to reflected light alters the our perception of an objects colour.