When Ikea tapped Hella Jongerius to design a line of socially conscious vases in 2006, many of us were thinking, "Hella who?" But design junkies know that Jongerius's influence reaches far beyond the blue-and-yellow confines of Ikea. With her cutting-edge combination of industrial design and traditional craft methods, the Dutch designer's reputation has spread from Amsterdam's Droog Design Collective to the European design cognoscenti.
But I like Jongerius's stuff for even more basic reasons: It is beautiful and very much unlike the other beautiful things I admire each day. The ways in which she combines folksy tradition with sleek aesthetics always impress me. The Majolica Large Multicolored Vase, for instance, uses 17th and 18th century ceramic designs for a wholly modern look, while her Worker Chair might serve as seating in a farmhouse of the future. To see some of my favorite Jongerius designs, just click on the photos below.