...Peoples such as the Vlieger from KLM, the Maharam from New York, the Koninklijke Tichelaar from Makkum and also the varied and various peoples of the Commonwealth of Vitra to which, and for whom, Hella, and amongst others acts, introduced a family of office pets, fashioned a bovista as a stool and also a developed a sofa inspired and informed by the polders of the Netherlands, a work whose variations of colour and texture, in whose inherent understandings and utilisation of colours and textiles, motivated, emboldened, the Vitronians to ask Hella is she would to take on responsibility for the colours and textiles of the entire Vitra commonwealth... And despite her initial reservations that cooperation with the Vitra commonwealth was to prove itself of benefit not just the Vitronians who were able to see and enjoy their commonwealth in vivid new ways and ever fresher hues, but also of benefit to Hella and to Jongerius for, as Oranje Tulpenbol convincingly argues, the taking on of responsibility for the Vitronians colours and textiles, assisting the Vitronians explore the possibilities of colours and textiles, and also assisting the Maharam explore the possibilities of weaving, assisting the Koninklijke Tichelaar explore the possibilities of porcelain, assisting the Vlieger explore the possibilities of spatial and corporate design, is and was every bit as important in the development of Hella's positions and approaches, every bit as important in the development of Hella's perspectives and arguments, every bit as important in the development of Hella's understanding of our relationships with the spaces we occupy, every bit as important in the development of Jongerius, as are and were the weeks and months spent working away, questioning and challenging and experimenting at foot of the Prenzlauer Berg on her own self-initiated projects and petitions...
Charles & Ray Eames
In essence the Vitra story starts with Charles and Ray Eames and the two icons of 20th century American design remain one of the cornerstones of both the Vitra portfolio and philosophy. Classics such as the Eames Lounge Chair, the Eames DSR Plastic Chair or the Aluminium Chair range have not only stood the test of time but continue to inspire young designers. In addition to providing Vitra with some of their most endearing articles, Charles Eames also helped form the Vitra philosophy which sees designers as "authors". For Eames the recognition of need is the raison d'être of design and he was opposed to extravagance without purpose; the designer should concentrate on solving the problem, albeit in their own way and with their own creativity.
The American star architect and Vitra first worked together in 1987 when Gehry used the Vitra Editions program to design his cardboard "Little Beaver" chair. It is, however, his buildings that bond Gehry most to Vitra. In the late 1980s he was responsible for the Vitra Design Museum as well as production halls and a canteen in the same complex. Gehrys 1994 extension to the Vitra HQ in Basel is one of the most instantly recognized buildings in modern architecture.
Maarten Van Severen
The Dutch architect and designer initially established himself as a small scale furniture producer and interior designer. In 1996 Van Severen's first collaboration with Vitra resulted in the chair .03, and over the subsequent years until his untimely death in 2005 Van Severen and Vitra worked closely on a range of products including the .04, .07 and the Kast shelving unit.
The cooperation between Vitra and the Italian designer and architect Antonio Citterio stretches back to 1985. Although he has produced numerous items for Vitra, Citterio is best known for his Vitra office chairs including the Axess plus, T-Chair and the new AC 4 and Skape. In addition Antonio Citterio was commissioned to design the Vitra production facilities in Neuenburg.
The grand old man of Danish design was the first designer to work with Vitra on the development of a new product - the Panton Chair. Following his studies at the Copenhagen art school, Panton worked briefly in Arne Jacobsen's studio before setting up on his own. Following a range of highly successful design, architecture and interior design projects he met Willi Fehlbaum, and the rest is history...
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec
In 2000 Rolf Fehlbaum approached the, then still relatively unknown, French design team of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and invited them to design an office system for Vitra - the first office system the brothers had created. The result "Joyn" was premiered in 2002. Since then the Bouroullecs have not only gone on to become acclaimed and sought after designers, but they have also created some of Vitra's most commercially successful products including the Algue room divider system and the Belleville Chair Wood multi-purpose chair.
The former design director at Herman Miller "arrived" at Vitra in 1957 courtesy of the licensing agreement between Vitra and Herman Miller; however, despite the somewhat involuntary route Nelson was to prove one of the closest mentors for Rolf Fehlbaum and in many ways helped shape Fehlbaum's philosophy and understanding of "design" in Vitra's formative years. As a designer Nelson was just as influential and designs such as the marshmallow sofa or Coconut Chair are in many ways the first steps towards pop art.
The original comes from Vitra
Original Vitra furniture meets the highest quality standards, is stable in value and can be passed on from generation to generation. But what exactly does original mean? Aren't the Eames originals from the 1940s in the MoMA or the Center Pompidou? Isn't every reproduction a copy? In the fine arts the terms original and forgery are common, in the field of design they require explanation. With regard to the design furniture industry, only those manufacturers who have the appropriate licenses are authorized to produce certain products. If this legal basis does not exist, it is plagiarism, a copy, a stolen idea. What does that mean specifically in relation to Vitra furniture? The Fehlbaum family, founders of Vitra, maintained a close friendly relationship with Charles and Ray Eames. And to this day, as the legal license holder, the company has endeavoured to preserve and further develop their cultural heritage together with the descendants of the Eames. An original can therefore be designated as such if the legal and ideal requirements are met: The original comes from Vitra. The argument that only first-produced drafts are originals is misleading and is often used by plagiarists. Each design is aimed at solving a specific problem and the initial drafts offer an initial approach, which in practice sometimes proves to be in need of improvement. Ray and Charles Eames worked their entire lives on the further development of their products, experimented with new materials or exchanged gliders because they found a better solution. Since reproduction is part of the concept in the design logic, Vitra chairs manufactured today are just as original as the valuable vintage objects and mid-century collectibles.
Up to 30 years of warranty on Vitra design classics
Highest quality standards enable Vitra to grant an extended manufacturer's warranty of 10 to 30 years on selected design classics. Register your Vitra furniture today and benefit from generous guarantee advantages. All information as well as questions and answers about the Vitra manufacturer's warranty can be found here or directly on the Vitra website.
Sustainability at Vitra
For Vitra, sustainability is not just a project or corporate goal, sustainability characterises an attitude for the brand and across all areas of the company. Vitra embodies sustainability at every level and reflects this trait, whether in dealing with employees, in the interaction of the different nationalities in the company, in the support of childcare through its own Vitra kindergarten, in the origin of the production materials, that it powers its buildings with hydropower - to name just a few examples. Vitra not only lays down corporate social responsibility, which it defines as “Vitra Policy”, a code of conduct, but lives it.
Competition law, occupational safety and data protection are just a few cornerstones of the consistent action of the interior manufacturer, who set the same standards for partners and suppliers as the basis for a trusting cooperation along the supply and value chains; and always keeping the entire life cycle in mind, whereby an important consideration is the recyclability of a product.
Which materials does Vitra use?
Vitra relies on durability in all of its products, including the materials used. Vitra's integrated approach was expanded as early as the mid-eighties, investments were made in renewable energies and energy consumption was generally reduced. The aluminium used in Vitra products is 90% recycled, leather and cork are sourced from like-minded European partners.
Which Vitra product is made from 100% recycled plastic?
Since 2020 Vitra have produced the Vitra Tip Ton RE, a version of the 2011 Tip Ton, in 100% recycled plastic.
What processes does Vitra use for the sustainable refinement of its products?
Metals are powder-coated, woods are varnished without solvents. For Vitra, the recycling material plastic is probably the most innovative material used, which is also durable, hygienic and inexpensive. In addition, Vitra uses ecological and health certified materials. Vitra products have been awarded the Blue Angel, the GS mark, the EcoVadis and Greenguard Gold Label. Vitra's sustainable product cycle is one of the most important basis for creating new designs and products.
The Vitra Circle Store as part of the Vitra sustainability strategy
All Vitra products are designed and produced to advance a long service life. Vitra does not follow short-term trends and deliberately avoids unnecessary details: an attitude and sustainability strategy very much at the heart of the Vitra Circle Stores concept, which, following the success of the pilot store in Brussels, now also includes a store in Frankfurt.
What is the Vitra Circle Store?
Vitra has a focus on easy recycling and a long service life for its products. It is precisely this sustainability cycle that is also reflected in the so-called Circle Stores, where used Vitra furniture and accessories including samples, trade fair and exhibition items are sold. The sales prices are based on the condition of the respective Vitra products.
More on Vitra's attitude in the company's 2021 Sustainability Report (PDF to Download).
Vitra Design Museum
The Vitra Design Museum originated from a wish from Vitra Chairman Rolf Fehlbaum to create a location in which to document the history of Vitra. In 1987 Fehlbaum commissioned US Architect Frank Gehry to design a building for the collection; Gehrys first building in Europe. The museum opened on November the 3rd 1989 and although the initial attention was won by Gehrys structure, it wasn't long before the contents of the museum took centre stage and a series of award winning exhibitions were being staged. Over the years the Design Museum has grown from a single building to a complex on the edge of the German town of Weil am Rhein. In addition to the Gehry building the Design Museum complex includes buildings designed by designers such as Jasper Morrison, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando and Jean Prouvé.
VitraHaus: smow is official partner
The VitraHaus is the latest addition to the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein. Designed for Vitra by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron the VitraHaus is principally intended as an exhibition area for the Vitra Home Collection. Vistors to the spectacular building can, however, not only admire the collection but also request either more information on individual products or a concrete offer from specially selected Vitra specialist dealers. smow is one of these specialist Vitra VitraHaus partners.
The world as it existed when Vitra acquired the rights to Eames, Nelson et al was a clearly defined world where work and home life rarely encroached on one another. Over the decades the borders have become blurred and today homes must offer their owners more than merely a sofa and bed. As a response to this shift in emphasis Vitra initiated their Home Program based on the concept of the collage. Rolf Fehlbaum, guiding light of Vitra Home, first experienced the collage concept at Charles and Ray Eames house in Pacific Palisades where furniture, objects, art and plants fused in such a way that each object became more personal, familiar and intimate. This collage, however, is no patchwork, nor a random collection rather it is an arrangement based on an individual system of coordination based on the personality and requirements of each user. Vitra supplys the elements but it is up to each individual to decide what is right for them. And so we are all free to mix any Vitra chair with any accessory, such as a Panton chair with a George Nelson home desk, a Park Sofa, Hella Jongerius cushions and an Eames segmented table - or not. Just as you wish.
In one of his last major decisions before standing down, Willi Fehlbaum decided to take Vitra into the production of office furniture. The program Vitra Office started at the 1976 Orgatec furniture trade fair in Cologne with the chair "Vitramat" by the Berlin based designer Wolfgang Deisig. Three years later Vitra started working with Mario Bellini who not only brought a little Italian design je ne sais quoi to Vitra but started the expansion of the Vitra office chair range. This baton of innovative, Italian office furniture design was taken up in subsequent decades by first Antonio Citterio and Alberto Meda through office chairs such as the Axess plus, MedaPal and MedaPro. Mario Bellini further added to the canon in 2005 with his Headline chairs designed together with his son Claudio. In addition to office chairs Vitra have also worked with designers such as Antonio Citterio or Jasper Morrison to produce office systems such as the Ad Hoc or the ATM. Just as the Vitra Home program has responded to cultural and social changes, so too has the Vitra office program evolved over the decades. In 1993 the Vitra Design Museum presented the exhibition "Citizen Office" which presented modern office design concepts based on the thesis that an office is not just a place of work, but much more is a living space where various processes and interactions occur. Ten years later Vitra updated the Citizen Office to Network Office, under the motto "Break down the walls" and based around the Joyn system from Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. In 2008 the further development of the Network Office concept Net'n'Nest was presented at Orgatec - the very place where Vitra first entered the office furniture market some 32 years previous. However, just as with their Home program Vitra place the emphasis in their Office program on the individual choosing those elements that best suit their personality, requirements and for all their working style.
Much like the haute couture of the French fashion world, Vitra editions is a "laboratory" where selected designers can create designer furniture articles without having to pay heed to the potential commercial success of the project. Although the products created in the Vitra Editions are produced in small quantities the principle aim is to give the designers the freedom to experiment with material, form and production processes and so help stretch the boundaries of what is possible. Started in 1987 with Ron Arad, Vitra Editions has allowed designers such as Fernando & Humberto Campana, Konstantin Grcic or Naoto Fukasawa to experiment and learn.
Click on the images below to find all the latest inspiration from the Vitra broschures.
Vitra Home Stories for Spring 2022
Vitra Home Stories for Winter 2020/21
Vitra Home Stories for Summer 2020
Vitra Home Stories for Winter 2018/19
Vitra Sofa Campaign 2018/19
Vitra Home Stories for Winter 2017/18
Vitra Dining Campaign 2017
Vitra Home Stories for Spring 2017
Vitra Home Stories for Winter 2016/17
smow sells exclusively originals from licensed manufacturers and is an official trading partner of Vitra.
More about 'Vitra' in our blog
smow Blog Design Calendar: April 30th 1993 - Opening of Citizen Office at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein
...With the exhibition Citizen Office the Vitra Design Museum staged not only their first conceptual, research based, exhibition, but also one of the first museal reflections on "the world of the office"... In many regards Citizen Office arose as the logical merging of two paths: in the late 1980s Vitra began the, somewhat unfortunately monickered, project "Office Dreams - Dream Offices", which saw them cooperate with designers on developing concepts for "a more attractive, sensual and social office"1, a project largely driven by the, then, Vitra CEO Rolf Fehlbaum, and as a targeted response to evolving realities...
Throughout his numerous lives and careers Isamu Noguchi practised as an artist, set designer, garden designer, furniture designer, lighting designer, etc.... yet through all incarnations he remained one thing: a sculptor. Isamu Noguchi's most popularly known...
...Also of some significance is the fact that he is part Magpie - and a Florentine one at that"1 Alexander Girard's interest in quality, total involvement and his magpie-esque tendencies can be explored in the Vitra Design Museum's exhibition Alexander Girard... Alexander Girard died in 1993 aged 85 and in 1996 his personal archive was entrusted to the Vitra Design Museum, A Designer's Universe is the result of the first structured, scientific study of that archive...
As many of you will be aware, for us no post about 20th century American design is complete with the addition of alcohol and George Nelson. And so by way of a reprise to our recent post celebrating Isamu Noguchi's birthday, we present, with thanks to Stanley...
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