Architecture and design at the Vitra campus

Last month we were guests of Vitra, who organized a press tour at the Campus, on the occasion of the exhibition “Project Vitra – Design, Architecture, Communications (1950–2017)” and the VitraHaus installation created by the French designer Dorothea Meilichzon.

For lovers of architecture and design (and not only!) The Campus Vitra, rather than a simple furniture factory, is a real open-air museum to let yourself be fascinated.

For us who deal with furniture and architecture, visiting the Vitra Campus was like a child entering a chocolate factory! A wonderful experience that we will tell you in this post.

On the border between Switzerland and Germany, it is here that the productive activities of the historic and famous Swiss company are based. Vitra chairs are fundamental for the design of modern furniture from the 1800s until today. The name of the company, in fact, is closely linked to that of great designers, such as Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton and Alexander Girard.

Not only design, since the 1980s the Vitra Campus has been a place of experimentation for several world-famous architects. It is here that Frank Gehry created his first building (Vitra Design Museum) outside the USA. The fire station (Fire Station) was the very first work built by Zaha Hadid. The Japanese Tadao Ando had never worked outside his country before creating his Pavilion for conferences here. And again, here is a very rare petrol station (Petrol Station) designed by Jean Prouvé and the iconic VitraHaus, an assembly of twelve house-shaped elements stacked, designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron of Basel. Not even the bus shelters are improvised because they were designed by Jasper Morrison.

At the Vitra Design Museum, in the main building, two major exhibitions are held each year in alternation. In parallel, the Vitra Design Museum Gallery hosts exhibitions and experimental projects. In this regard, you have until September 3, 2017, to visit the exhibition “Project Vitra – Design, Architecture, Communications (1950–2017)” an overview of the various cultural and commercial activities of the Swiss furniture manufacturer, the exhibition offers interesting insights on company history. This review is an expanded version of the exhibition held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (United States) in 2014.

The red building Vitra Schaudepot, warehouse-museum, designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, has hosted a selection of chairs and lamps from the museum’s vast collection for a year. Finally, the beautiful private collection of furniture and prototypes of the Vitra Design Museum has been made accessible to the public. And that’s how we could see live design icons from Le Corbusier, Gerrit Rietveld, Alvar Aalto, Charles & Ray Eames or Ettore Sottsass.

Design and architecture enthusiasts will find what they enjoy after all this is a unique place in the world.

Planning a trip here is a must. The Vitra Campus is located in Weil am Rhein, a German city, near the meeting point between the German, French and Swiss borders, a few steps from Basel. Thanks to the immense space, the architecture, the green space, it becomes a destination for many “non-employees” who, after a visit to the Museum and temporary exhibitions, enjoy beautiful moments of relaxation in the cafeteria or restaurant. Younger kids, but not only them, can have fun with the Vitra Tower in Höller’s slide, a concentration of playful architecture. Try it if you don’t suffer from vertigo!

The exhibitions are accompanied by a varied program of guided tours, discussions, workshops and other events.

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