The idea of dressing and the underlying layers that are accidentally or intentionally revealed provided the initial concept for the HJ bag by Hella Jongerius. From there, a continual process of revision and refinement unfolded from 2006 on, with occasional returns to the drawing board. Ultimately, the Dutch designer landed on a simple and functional unisex shoulder bag for daily use, without forsaking her signature craft-like details. In her words, “The shape of the bag is archetypical and pragmatic. Sturdy on the outside but with a hidden treasure inside, only visible for the user.”
A persistent material vocabulary of leather and canvas unifies the three highly customized color variations. French waxed cotton canvas in natural greige and custom-dyed shades of mustard and pale sea glass forms the bag’s U-shaped body, which is left unlined, exposing the construction, with one interior pocket. An adjoining self-lined collar in ripstop nylon provides material contrast in opaque navy or printed with a modified version of Jongerius’s Confetti pattern in translucent shades of citrus or black and ivory, respectively. A waxed cotton cord from Italy secured by a custom-made leather slide draws the collar together while a handmade serrated leather bead of Jongerius’s design serves as the pull, adding to the HJ’s unique character. Likewise, the shoulder strap, also in natural Italian leather, is raw cut and securely surface mounted; its unadhered ends, however, are allowed to splay and take on their own character. A final unexpected detail—contrasting stitching in bright green, yellow and blue—highlight the craftsmanship that small-scale, US-based production affords.
The first bag by Hella Jongerius, the HJ joins designs by Konstantin Grcic, Jasper Morrison and Klaartje Martens as the cornerstone of Maharam’s accessories collection. Developed in response to a brief that asked the designers to create bags that they would like to use, the collection is available through maharam.com and select retailers.
Founded in 1902, Maharam is North America’s leading creator of textiles for commercial and residential interiors.
About Hella Jongerius
A graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven, Hella Jongerius has been a standout in the world of product design since her early work for Droog, the Dutch design collective, and now at her Berlin-based studio, Jongeriuslab. Jongerius’s unique approach to craft from the perspective of industry, and her ability to combine these seemingly oppositional modes of production, has allowed her to create individuality on a mass scale. In the monograph, Hella Jongerius: Misfit, Jongerius writes, “our eternal crime is that we're forever standardizing everything." Her impulse as a designer is to find a way around such manufactured uniformity through continuous research into colors, materials, textures, and techniques. Retaining the imperfections, nuances and traces of the creation process that industrial production tends to eliminate, Jongerius’s work celebrates the value of process. Recent projects include the art direction since 2007 of colors and surfaces at Vitra for classics by Eames, Panton, Prouvé, and others; the installation of “Colour Recipe Research” at MAK Vienna at the invitation of curator Hans Ulrich Obrist; the redesign of the UN North Delegates’ Lounge in New York; and design direction for Danskina, a Dutch rug company co-owned by Kvadrat and Maharam.
Hella Jongerius and Maharam have been collaborating since 2001. Several of the resultant textiles are now in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; the Museum of Modern Art; the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen; and the Stedelijk Museum, among others.
HJ Bag Specifications
Size: 12 1/2"W x 14"H
Content: waxed cotton canvas, nylon, leather