Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the idea was to create a series of domestic spaces that could be used to showcase Vitra’s home range. They took the archetypical shape and size of a house and simply repeated and stacked it to make more space than one could provide. The result is a five-story building that in places is cantilevered up to 49 feet!
Seeking a home-like environment didn’t stop them from including occasional moments of architectural spectacle, such as the glazed ends and this swooping staircase.
The space is navigated from the top down, so on arrival you take a lift to the fifth floor, and then descend at your leisure. I was very excited to quickly spot an Eames RAR rocker, which is what I’m peeking out from behind in my twitter profile picture!
But to be honest, I was like a child in a sweet shop – there was iconic design from wall to wall.
I love Alexander Girard’s grumpy Wooden Dolls, designed for his home in Sante Fe and inspired by his extensive collection of Folk Art. The full sized ones were even more impressive.
I was surprised to discover recently that Charles and Ray Eames didn’t actually design this little blackbird. They brought it when travelling in Appalachia, where it was probably made in the 1910s.
No-one knows who designed it, but it rose to fame in the 1950s when it appeared in silhouette amongst the legs of a group of DKR chairs, transforming a fairly ordinary product shot is something truly iconic. It went into production relatively recently, having been developed from 3D scans of the original.
VitraHaus also exhibits contemporary art. This is Taurus by Sarah Morris and was originally constructed in household glass. Her work is inspired by creating abstract patterns from the urban environment.
It was really nice to see so many products in ‘room’ environments, albeit highly styled ones, in contrast to the sleek, pared-down showroom spaces they are usually seen in.
It’s a fantastic building that really creates a sense of Alice in Wonderland exploration through a series of domestic spaces – a success, inside and out.
Further reading for the especially geeky: