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Dutch designer Hella Jongerius explains why she moved to Berlin and discusses her latest projects in the first of a series of exclusive video interviews Dezeen filmed at her studio in the German capital.
A Design Academy Eindhoven graduate, Jongerius set up her studio Jongeriuslab in Rotterdam, where she continued to be based for 15 years. In 2008, she left her native country and relocated to Berlin, a move she explains was based on her need for a fresh start.
"I had a beautiful house, a studio round the corner, a nice team and good clients all over the world," she says. "[But] it was not inspirational for me. I like to be a starter; I'm good when I'm a starter, when I'm young and new in a field or in a culture."
Despite not having a large design scene, Jongerius says that Berlin's green spaces and relaxed attitude towards money drew her to the city.
"We decided to go to Berlin because it's a green city. It's a big city but it feels like a village," she explains.
"But the main thing is that it is not about money. There is not the stress of money in the city. It has a relaxed environment, which also makes it creative: things are moving and there's a young crowd. There's not a huge design crowd, but I'm not interested in having that close to me."
Jongerius prefers to travel around the world to meet her clients, which she says she purposefully restricts to a select group.
Alongside longstanding relationships with Maraham, who she designs new textiles for each year, and Vitra, where she is creative director of colours, textiles and surfaces, Jongerius is currently working with airline KLM on its passenger plane interiors and is part of a team of Dutch designers, including Rem Koolhaas and Irma Boom, chosen to re-design the North Delegates’ Lounge at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
"This is the group of projects that I'm now working on" Jongerius says. "I have a very small group of clients; I really am very picky with who I work with. I want to have a longer relationship with clients so that you can build a collection together."
Working with a few large, established companies also allows Jongerius to keep her studio small, she says.
"I don't have a hands-on workshop in the studio," she explains. "I had that before, a large one, but now that I work with larger companies there is a huge team who are doing the hands-on work."
Jongerius concludes: "I'm spoilt, because the clients do their own research and development for me. It's a huge network and I am the spider."