Going Dutch

Hella Jongerius, Rem Koolhaas, and Irma Boom redesign the Delegates’ Lounge at the renovated United Nations building in New York City.

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The graphic designer Irma Boom created the gridded shade for the north-facing window wall. 

Courtesy Frank Oudeman

In the end, Koolhaas was allowed to remove a mezzanine at the far end of the room—it was inaccessible to the disabled and had blocked views of the East River—and design a bar and information desk of white resin. Jongerius outfitted the room with furniture covered in the new colors, including her Polder sofas, based on Dutch topography, and other pieces created specifically for the space. Those include her “bubble” desk—a wooden work surface with an acrylic half-sphere meant to shield a desktop computer—and a new chair with wheels on the front legs that allow it to be rolled around as needed. (She did bring in classic pieces by Hans Wegner, Jean Prouvé, and Charles and Ray Eames, figuring the room would still be “Dutch enough.”) Jongerius also designed the shade that covers the 23-foot-high east wall, a grid of yarn bearing thousands of porcelain beads, made by the oldest company in the Netherlands, the Royal Tichelaar Makkum. Louise Schouwenberg, a writer and curator who served as a member of Jongerius’s team, says, “The beads bear traces of the production process; you have a tactile experience. That creates intimacy on a detail level.”

An early scheme for the furniture’s color palette.

Courtesy Frank Oudeman

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