Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius, on view at the Design Museum from June 28 to September 24, is an installation-based exhibition that takes a deeper look at how colour behaves. Featuring a diverse collection of new commissions that explore the effects that light conditions have on our perceptions of colour and form, Jongerius' ultimate aim is to pit the power of colour against the power of form.
Jongerius' research has been inspired by a wide range of sources, including celebrated painters, who recognised and recorded how light affects objects and landscapes. For example, Monet painted the same haystack over and over to document the different colours and atmospheres at different times of the day.
Breathing Colour creates an exhibition that blurs the boundaries between art and design. Combining intriguing shapes with extensive research; the exhibition questions our preconceptions of colour and embraces its imperfection and experimentation.
"There is a phenomenon in colorimetry called Metamerism. This was the starting point in my colour research," Jongerius said. "It occurs when colours are viewed in different conditions, and describes the effect when two colours appear to match even though they might not actually do so. I think everyone once bought a piece of furniture or clothing in a certain colour, and experienced a shock when unpacking it back home. Most companies see the effect as problematic and try to avoid it, and produce colours that attempt to eliminate it. But I want to make a plea for embracing metamerism. As a designer, I want to make a plea for plastics, varnishes and paints to use layered pigments that provide intense colours that are allowed to breathe with changing light."
The exhibition is divided into separate spaces that simulate daylight conditions at specific times of the day - morning, noon and evening. These three phases explore the impact of changing daylight on our perception of colour. Each installation includes a series of three-dimensional objects as well as textiles, some of which are hand-woven while others are produced on industrial looms.
Photography: Roel van Tour