Hella Jongerius is known for her internationally renowned practice, which departed from industrial design after her studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Her oeuvre now covers the entire scope of the field, and she develops applied design simultaneously with autonomous art projects. Her installation Loom Room for the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is part of a long line of autonomous projects with a 3D textile weaving technique, previous results of which have been shown in Lafayette Anticipations (Paris) and Gropius Bau (Berlin).
Loom Room by Hella Jongerius is on view in the newly renovated Neuron building on the TU/e university campus. This building was established in the 1970s as the university 's first mathematical center to house large computers, used for research at the time. Nowadays, Neuron functions as a general study center and as the headquarters of the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI). Renovated by architecture studio Team V, with interior design by studio Müller van Tol, the building offers space for an artwork in an atrium connecting two floors in the center of the building. The first floor is open, the ground floor is enclosed by glass. In this space, Jongerius creates a vertical installation by connecting textile threads from a loom at the ceiling all the way down to the ground floor, where the threads form a twisted and tilted cube. Through the use of soft textile materials and traditional techniques, as well as the way the cube shape leans and pulls on the building, Loom Room offers an impressive counterweight to the concrete technical environment and the starkly modernist character of this campus.
Hella Jongerius: “The core form is the macho building, modernistic. In it I have suspended a geometric soft cube construction that consists of soft materials, which are suspended but still move along with gravity. The object will seem to burst from the cubic atrium on the ground floor, large and expressive, exposing an intriguing creative machine on the first floor.”
Jongerius is driven by a research practice with experimental materials and techniques, in her product designs as well as her autonomous art projects. For Loom Room she was inspired by the history of the jacquard weaving technique: an automated weaving method based on punch cards, which is regarded as the forerunner of modern computer programming. The relationship between information technology and textiles can be traced back to mathematician Ada Lovelace, who worked closely with Charles Babbage, a key founder of computer technology. In 1843 Lovelace wrote a letter to Babbage in which she connected textiles to the invention of the analytic engine. She writes: "We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves."
Jongerius does not weave flora and fauna, but uses a geometric form language for Loom Room instead. She consciously chooses for the weaving technique to be carried out manually, thus arguing for a slower pace to allow contemplation and create space for intuition. In doing so, Jongerius questions the speed associated with automation and offers alternative work processes in a highly technologized and digitalized work environment. A team of weavers will perform the weaving technique manually, over a four-week period, as a plea for cooperation and craftsmanship, as well as the importance of coincidence within thought processes.
Jongerius: “The innovations that arose during the trial and error research process for this object are the intersections that are now woven intersections for the first time. The warp (thread) turns into a weft (thread). With this, the hierarchy in the thread design disappears; a non-binary group of threads arises that forms a weave. This physical and philosophical change is charged with potentiality and will become a new starting point for further study at Jongeriuslab.”
With a specially developed workshop and a series of weaving sessions, students and other interested parties inside and outside Eindhoven are invited to participate in the weaving process. Students from TU/e, Design Academy Eindhoven, Sint Joost Breda/Den Bosch and SintLucas in Boxtel, among others, are welcome to register by sending an e-mail to Britte Sloothaak, one of the co-curators of the project (email@example.com). After the completion of the installation, a publication will be developed that will function as a notebook for reflections on the work process.
The commission to Hella Jongerius was developed in close collaboration with Nicky Verheijen, an MA student of Mechanical Engineering involved in the Best Teacher Award as a representative of the Student Advice Body (SAO) 2019/2020. Due to the corona crisis, the jury of the Best Teacher Award decided not to name one winner of the Best Teacher Award Bachelor and Best Teacher Award Master in 2020, but instead to honor all teaching staff for this impossible achievement. Therefore, in 2020, all TU/e teachers were declared Best Teacher. The cash prizes that are awarded under normal circumstances were reserved by the jury for the realization of a work of art as an ode to all teachers in 2020.