HELLENDOORN (NL) - Claudy Jongstra, who trained as a fashion designer, is fascinated by wool and, in particular, with traditional dyeing and felting techniques. Jongstra, who even keeps her own flock of sheep for wool production, achieved worldwide fame in the 1990s with her experimental felt products. Her fabrics were used in the collections of celebrated fashion designers like John Galliano and Donna Karan and before long she was getting commissions for rugs and wall tapestries. Her felt creations grace many civic buildings including the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin (Rem Koolhaas, 2004) and the Public Library in Amsterdam (Jo Coenen, 2007).
The architects Claus en Kaan asked her to provide the soft furnishings for their Huis voor Cultuur en Bestuur (a multifunctional building housing the Hellendoorn city hall and several cultural facilities), a combination of art and acoustics. It is evident that Jongstra draws inspiration from traditions, which she then interprets in her own way. The theatre, for example, is done in 'classic' red, while the wall hangings in the 'Hellendoorn Room' are in shades of green that refer to the colours of the municipal coat of arms. The high point of the building is the interior of the council chamber which is done out in blue wool and for which Jongstra designed a kind of nomadic inner tent in various shades of white – a colour symbolizing the search for truth and purity. The tent provides a maximum contrast between the transparent building, within which the council chamber is clearly visible, and the enclosed inner space where council meetings take place. (Kirsten Hannema)