With the exception of clothes, furniture is the thing with which we live most intimately. We spend our nights sleeping on it, our days working amidst it, our free time lounging on it. We even store our most prized possessions in... [more]
With the exception of clothes, furniture is the thing with which we live most intimately. We spend our nights sleeping on it, our days working amidst it, our free time lounging on it. We even store our most prized possessions in it. Collaborating with some of the century's most renowned designers, Vitra has created furniture with a keen eye to the profound influence its look and feel have on our lives. As the company states: "We have made it our mission to develop furniture and furniture systems that stimulate, inspire, and motivate, while also offering the body comfort, safety, and support."
Vitra's roots extend back to 1934, when founder Willi Fehlbaum took over a shop-fitting company in Basel, Switzerland. By the time he moved his operations to Weil am Rhein, Germany, Vitra was on its way to becoming one of the century's major furniture design companies, having represented the top names in the design world. Among the designers Vitra launched in the 1950s were Charles and Ray Eames, the acclaimed Modernist duo. Coming off the success of their leather chair and ottoman, this husband and wife team presented furniture that was at once artistic yet scientific, playful yet functional.
In 1966 Vitra unveiled the "Panton-Chair," the creation of Danish designer Verner Panton. Breaking with the Scandinavian tradition of handcrafted wood furniture, Panton produced an S-curved chair made of plastic. Like much of the Pop art of the day, the chair was easily reproducible, requiring only 30 minutes to fabricate. Made in seven basic colors, such as fire engine red, it became a sensation. Panton's elegantly simple design dispenses with arms and uses a single elliptical wafer as the chair's main surface. At first glance one might not believe that such a system could hold the weight of a person, for the seat floats out unsupported. However, the chair's minimalism belies the complex physical laws governing its construction.
Willi's son Rolf took over Vitra in 1977. For years he had been collecting furniture from the top designers in the world. Encompassing the work of everyone from Le Corbusier to Sonia Delaunay to Mies van der Rohe, the collection reached such huge proportions that it recently became its own museum. The Vitra Design Museum is at once an homage to furniture design and to Vitra's own influential past. As the collection demonstrates, modern design has been shaped to a large degree by the practitioners Vitra chose to foster and promote. Without the vision of this astonishing company, twentieth-century design art might have been very dull indeed. [show less]