Discover Benelux, Issue 31, July 2016

Page 70

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Claudy Jongstra

The AkzoNobel Honeysuckle Blue(s) Garden, co-designed by Claudy Jongstra and Stefan Jaspers

goes on to explain her awe for the natural engineering going on all around us. “Wool really is like a smart fibre. It has an incredible spectrum of qualities, like 20 of them, and it has never been reproduced synthetically or chemically. We have not yet succeeded as man to imitate that, so there is a lot to learn from nature.”

Respecting tradition With such a devotion to all things natural, you might expect the artist to have an aversion to some of the more formal gardens which can be on display at Chelsea, but that is not the case. “I think legacy and heritage are important too. I can love really traditional gardens,” she explains, although the creative admits her heart lies with something more rugged. “I am very devoted to a garden which has a reference to real working labour. For example, I am very much attracted to the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. His work 70 | Issue 31 | July 2016

showed an inner respect for the work of farmers and the beautiful colours of the land.”

An immersive experience Jongstra also believes a garden should do more than simply be admired. “I did not want people to visit Honeysuckle Blue(s) and just have a passive experience of ‘Oh isn’t this beautiful?’ I wanted to do something interactive. I love that the visitors feel like they are part of it.” It is this power to inspire which motivates Jongstra in all that she does. A career highlight has to be creating a collection of her celebrated wall hangings for the Dutch presidential residence Catshuis in The Hague. “These wall tapestries make a place really human,” says Jongstra. “They do something to the soul, which is what you need if you have really political issues being discussed in these places. In these places of negotiation, it is important to have

a setting of relaxation, of tactility. I think it was a really genius idea from the architect at the time Jo Coenen, who really made this happen. For me, on a political level, that was a very important commission.”

Talking pieces Jongstra’s résumé is so varied, we wondered what she will turn her hand to next; no doubt something very creative. “I express myself in tactility and in aesthetics,” she asserts. “Whichever way I am telling a story, whether through wall tapestries or gardens, you could say it is only the form which is different.” However, one clear distinction Jongstra does make in her career path is between the worlds of fashion and her recent foray into horticulture: the creative started out her career in the fashion industry and has collaborated with numerous designers such as John Galliano and Christian Lacroix. “Working on a garden is the complete opposite to working in fashion.