During the 20th century, groundbreaking advances in science and technology propelled contemporary visual culture forward, giving humanity an unprecedented understanding of previously incomprehensible realities. Armed with this vastly expanded vocabulary, visual thinkers were able to explore the representation of micro and macro worlds in new ways, from the Eameses’ Powers of Ten to the Long Now Clock to Claes Oldenburg’s oversized “banal” food sculptures. It is within this framework that Hella Jongerius conceived Repeat.
In response to our brief for a textile that would enable a suite of furniture to consist of unique yet related pieces—chairs as cousins—Jongerius sought to reconceptualize the bounds of an upholstery textile through two modernist strategies: scale and collage.
Repeat is composed of two upholstery textiles with remarkably long cycles of repetition made up of sequential yet distinct motifs that flow seamlessly into one another over the course of several yards. Repeat Classic is a ribbon of traditional jacquard themes—riffs on motifs drawn from the archives of a Swiss couture silk weaver—while Repeat Dot unfurls into a modernist sequence of circular forms. In overprinted variations of these textiles, Jongerius emphasizes the more industrial aspects of the weaving process through a layer of technical code taken from jacquard punch cards and silk-screened in white lacquer.
By bringing exaggerated scale and extended repetition to interiors, Repeat highlights the artisanal concept of individuality within serial production, a theme that appears throughout Jongerius’s work. Each chair in a suite upholstered in Repeat will display a different portion of the overall design—all related but each one different from the next—in effect becoming a customized Hella Jongerius installation.
Repeat made its debut at Moss in 2002 and has since attained iconic status and spawned a new vogue for textiles in massive scale. Repeat is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, among others.