Following the successful visit to USM Haller the (smow)team headed on to Basel and Vitra HQ. The contrast in the external appearances of the buildings could hardly be greater.
As a company Vitra don’t just engage designers to create furniture for them, they also encourage them to design buildings. The finest example being the Vitra Design Museum complex at Weil am Rhein; but in interests of chronological correctness more on that later.
The original Vitra building in Basel building was constructed as a production facility in 1957, before being extended in 1994 by American architect and designer Frank Gehry. While Gehry, admittedly, makes it all to easy for his critics to dismiss his work with a quick “Always the same Gehry, just a different city”, it is always worth investigating his work a little more closely.
Why for example is the car park blue?
Because every house in California has a pool and so the Vitra HQ needs a pool. Sadly at the (smow)team were in Basel the weather was unseasonably sunny , after rain the pool effect of the blue paint is much more evident.
We were also very impressed by the colour coding of the building; the yellow outside wall, for example, housing a room both decorated and furnished in yellow. So simple, yet so good.
In comparison to the structural elements, inside the Vitra HQ is a wonderful example of just how well Vitra products can be used to construct a pleasant, streamlined and efficient working environment. And not just Vitra products; lurking amongst the furniture were several Pin Coats from Moormann. At the end of the day if you know and appreciate good design you know and appreciate good design.
What principally attracted our attention, however, was the incorporation of the Net’n’Nest concept in the layout of the office and the associated separation of the office into separate group work, private work and relaxation spaces. The space available in the Vitra offices was not particular large, just excellently utilized and assigned.
In addition to the administrative office the complex in Basel also houses the research and development facilities as well as the product showcase space and here your (smow)team had the opportunity learn a little more about the production processes and also the forthcoming developments from Vitra.
And then after a highly enjoyable morning in Basel it was off to Weil am Rhein and the Vitra Design Museum…