While living in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2008, OHNY program coordinator, Jailee Rychen, took a trip to the Vitra Design Museum. Located just outside of the Swiss city of Basel in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the museum is situated outside of a major city in a quiet setting that is also the location of the Vitra factory campus.
The main building of the museum was design by Frank Gehry and finished in 1989. It was his first building in Europe and its unconventional design became a focus of interest in the international architecture community. The Vitra’s campus includes a number of buildings all designed by the top names in architecture including Zara Hadid, Nicholas Grimshaw, Herzog & De Meuron, etc. The museum offers architectural tours of the entire campus.
The museum was founded and is funded by the Vitra Corporation whose intention was to document the history of the company and to showcase its large collection of furniture by designers such as George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto, and Jean Prouvé. The museum is located on Charles Eames Straße.
Outside of the museum is a sculpture titled Balancing Tolls by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen (1984). The tools are the tools of a furniture maker. This sculpture was given to Willi Fehlbaum, Vitra’s founder, on his 70th birthday.
During Jailee’s visit there was an exhibition of the design of George Nelson who was known for his unique wall clock designs, many of which New York’s might recognize from the MoMA design store or in other design boutiques around the city.
Another signature design of Nelson’s is his Marshmellow Sofa that comes in a variety of colors from simple white to multicolored.
The design of Gehry’s building is an artwork and design masterpiece in itself. It is whimsical and daring, like most of Gehry’s other buildings. If you ever find yourself in Basel, Switzerland, it is worth a bus trip to see the Vitra Design Museum and factory campus. Take a take a tour of the architectural marvels and enjoy a museum dedicated masters of design excellence.
Vitra designs are sold in a number is retail locations in New York City. They also have a design store on 29th Ninth Ave.
Vitra Design Museum
79576 Weil am Rhein, Germany