Designed by Hella Jongerius, it was in the Museum Boijmnans Van Beunignen in Rotterdam as part of a retrospective of her work, entitled ‘Misfits’. Hella has built her career from perfecting the art of imperfection, and in her hands a table is never just a table – as you can see. She started as a carpenter, but moved to industrial design, combining creativity with making, and she describes design as ‘like ping-ponging between the head and the hands’.
I like the fact that the desk is so unexpected, and at the same time so beautifully made – the design is a narrative but it’s highly technical and crafted in the use of materials and processes (solid walnut and blue semi-transparent enamel).
I’m lucky enough to have one of these desks and I totally fell in love with it as an idea, it’s a radical object and a challenge. There’s a relationship – a very special one – between the user and the object, which I guess was Hella’s intention. When I work at this desk, it plays with my imagination, you look up and the frog is there to start a conversation.
It’s now really familiar to me and of course the frog brings to mind all sorts of stories, it’s a little bit magical I think. And it always provokes a reaction – it demands to be noticed and fascinates when people first come across it.
It’s a great inspiration because it sets free your thinking even while you’re at your desk. There’s something playful too, definitely a sense of humour – it always makes me smile and feel more positive when I sit down to work there. I’d add to Hella’s description of design ‘the head and the hands and the heart’ because there’s so much feeling involved in a piece like this.
[And the irony of the frog is not lost on me, being French.]
Jean-Baptiste Danet is global chief executive of Dragon Rouge.