Vitra is probably one of the most famous furniture production companies in the world. The brand’s history began in the early XX century, when Willi Fehlbaum, its founder, bought a little workshop to produce equipment for stores. During his visit to New York, Fehlbaum came across a sophisticated chair made of curved plywood. Inspired by the exceptional design of the chair, Willi decided to do whatever it takes to find its creator. It turned out, there were actually two of them: the remarkable design was made by a famous couple of industrial designers - Charles and Ray Eames. Collaboration with the Eames family became the turning point for Vitra: the company changed its profile to furniture manufacturing and began the licensed production of furniture from the couple’s collection. The Eames’ chairs produced by Vitra gained popularity and recognition across Europe in no time.
Today Vitra carefully maintains its traditions and continues collaborating with design and architectural icons, exclusively delivering high-end, functional and stylish products deeply loved by interior designers from all over the world.
The brand’s home is located in a 15 minute drive from Basel, in a small town called Weil am Rhein. The Vitra Campus is a true architectural goldmine. The greatest architects of our time, such as Frank Gary, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meron, Renzo Piano, Tadao Ando, Zaha Hadid and many others, have made a contribution to its architecture.
During our visit, company’s representatives have helped our little delegation of interior designers and partners to dive into the brand’s history. We walked miles across the campus! We were particularly amazed by Vitra Fire Station - a building by Zaha Hadid, the first female Pritzker Architecture Prize winner. The station was the very first building designed by Hadid, but through its asymmetry and fragmented geometry one can instantly see the character and style of the soon-to-become one of the most famous contemporary architects.
Vitra Schaudepot design museum was another highlight of the tour. What a great archive collection of chairs! Eames, Panton, Belleville - the number of chair models seems to be endless. Walking slowly through multiple rows of shelves, we were amazed by the imagination and sense of style of the brand’s designers. Each object is a piece of art, and we know for sure what it feels like to complement modern interiors with the furniture of this class.
Apart from visiting the Vitra Campus, we also got an opportunity to enjoy a city tour in Basel. It was really interesting to learn a little bit more about the history of this beautiful town.
What surprised us the most was the local public transport system. In turned out, that there are only trams in Basel! This type of transport is considered to be environmentally friendly, that is the reason why it was the option of choice for the city board. Besides, not only can you take a tram to get from point A to point B in the city, but also get to a different country using it! Basel is located just where the borders of Switzerland, Germany, and France meet. So we took the advantage of it and went on a short trip to Rien, a small town near Basel, to pay a visit to the Foundation Beyeler, a wide-known art museum.
By the way, environmental responsibility is a highly important aspect of the Swiss life: the amount of cars in the country is reduced to a minimum, and even conventional air conditioning is not very welcome by the local people.
All in all, Switzerland is amazing! It is a quiet, peaceful and insanely beautiful country that has a relaxed and calm atmosphere everyone can enjoy.