This book documents the process of a task – the creation of a colour and material library for Vitra (vitra.com) by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius.

The responsibility of history, the large shoes of previous designers and the ethos of a trailblazing company make for an exciting challenge. Jongerius shows that clarity of vision is as important as clarity of colour. I don’t have a favourite colour illustrates how she has achieved a big picture through small details, the discipline required to be true to the vision and the critical nature of experimentation.

Vitra is a Swiss family company that has been manufacturing furniture for the architecture and design market for 80 years. From this experience they know that the integration of creativity with technical production is integral to their success. The creation of this library by Jongerius streamlines the production process for Vitra and ensures the company and different designers’ products are identifiable by a language of unique colours and materials.

I don’t have a favourite colour is a memoir in many ways. The tone is conversational as well as didactic. The content is generous and appears uncensored. I always felt included.

Jongerius compliments Ray and Charles Eames, two of the many designers whose work Vitra manufactures, as being ‘thoroughly researched and carefully selected’ with their colour palette. The same can be said of Jongerius and this library for Vitra. That we have the privilege to observe the relationship of these two and the process is fortunate. By example we get to learn. How satisfying to see a designer and client dancing to the same tune, one entrusted with the others brief, the outcome practical as well as exciting.

In an era of master planning, the process recorded here only goes to show its importance in all spheres. What is of particular pleasure is that serendipity has not been lost through rigorous research and experimentation, amply illustrated here with drawings, models and photographs.

As an object the book design supports the content. At no time does it usurp the text and images. It allows the reader a leisurely approach. White space is used well allowing the colour to sing. The typeface selection (Brezel Grotesque) is highly legible – a warm and friendly choice, matching the tone of the words. And the paper stock is equally satisfying, appealing to the touch.

The book design has one feature above all that not only pays homage to the content but exemplifies how thoughtful design adds delight. The stitching of each section is sewn with long stiches, each a different colour. This seemingly simple gesture expresses instantly the colour and material subject of this book.

The end result, in both outcome and book, is joyful.

Photo credit:
Images courtesy of Gestalten.
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