| VITRA / MILAN INTERNATIONAL FURNITURE FAIR 2008
Vitra is committed to the development and manufacture of high quality furniture, products are created in close cooperation with internationally renowned designers.
Vitra designs the places where people work; be in the office, at home, or on the road. The goal: to make the place of work as appealing, productive and healthy as possible. Its furniture is to be found in countless successful companies and organizations, as well as in the homes of many private individuals with a feel for design. Active internationally, we work together with the major designers of the day. For over 50 years now it have been manufacturing the furniture created by the famous US designers Charles and Ray Eames and also George Nelson, Jean Prouvé, Verner Panton, Alberto Meda, Mario Bellini, Antonio Citterio, Jasper Morrison.
At the Milan International Furniture Fair 2008:
Alcove Sofa, design Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
It shares the tripartite structure: the steel tube frame, the body with flexible back and side panels and the different upholstery cushions. The word Alcove suggests a niche or an area separated off from a larger room which, equipped with cushions, is used for sitting or sleeping. In other words, the alcove forms a snug area in which to withdraw, it conveys a particular feeling of spaciousness and benefits from muted acoustics. In order to provide a similar feeling of security, the Bouroullecs have designed the back and side panels of the sofa to be high enough so that they extend some way above the back and arm cushions, at the same time producing a "room in a room" effect. The agreeable feeling of privacy and intimacy which is immediately felt by the occupants of this furniture is reinforced by the softly defined seat upholstery and cushions. This means that the Alcove Sofa radiates an aura of invitingness and protectiveness. With the Alcove Highback Sofa the side and back panels have been raised even higher so that they are considerably above the head area of the person seated. In this way, a perfect place is provided for optical and acoustic screening - whether in the office, in a lobby or in a large room in the home.
Alcove Love Seat, design Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
The sofas in the Alcove family offer a space to withdraw, where you can scarcely be seen or heard any more from the outside. As a "room within a room" they provide their own world of colour, comfort and peace. The Alcove Love Seat - a piece of furniture whose size is deliberately somewhere between a cantilevered armchair and a small two-seater - offers all these advantages in a limited space; it takes advantage of the wall panels, which are as thin as they are flexible and which, despite their compact external dimensions, give all Alcove sofas a maximum of internal space. The name "love seat" is an American term, simply meaning a small two-seater sofa. The Alcove Love Seat, which is identical to its bigger brother in both construction and design, has been designed so that it can be used by one person alone or by two people. Additionally, anyone looking for the maximum degree of privacy will choose the Alcove Love Seat Highback design. With its particularly high side and back panels, this piece of furniture offers a quite unique feeling of security.
C1, design Verner Panton
Initiated in 1958, Panton's collaboration with the company Plus-linje played a decisive role in his international career. He worked with the Danish company to develop an extensive furniture collection, marked on one hand by a sensation-provoking formal extravagance, and on the other by the use of novel materials such as steel wire, acrylic glass or plastic film. A defining characteristic of the Plus-linje furniture is the application of basic geometric forms. This is already evident in the very first model from the collection, the Cone Chair, which was developed as a cone placed point-down. Designed in 1959, the C1 easy chair was also originally part of the Plus-linje collection. Instead of a cone, Panton resorted to a spherical form with this model. The roughly semi-spherical seating shell of the chair is lined with foam on the inner surface and covered with fabric. To give comfortable support to the back and arms, Panton tipped the swivel mounted shell slightly forward on a base that could not be any simpler. It consists of a vertical section of steel tubing and the foot cross in stainless steel already familiar from the other models of the Plus-linje collection. The C1 is conceived as a light and handy easy chair with a clear formal vocabulary that fits in many different types of interiors and also cuts a good figure in lobbies, meeting rooms and hotel rooms.
Basel Chair, design Jasper Morrison
Upon first glance, the chair appears to be another example in the long line of simple classic wooden chairs that have come out of Europe for many decades. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that this model has something unusual about it: the seat and back are made from batch-dyed plastic and are much thinner than would have been possible with an all-wood chair. Thanks to the flexibility of the material, the Basel Chair thus offers a much higher degree of seating comfort. The comfort is further enhanced through the subtly textured surface of the plastic, which keeps the sitter and any objects placed on the chair from slipping down as often occurs with slick painted surfaces. Also notable are the detail solutions that Morrison developed to join the plastic elements to the wooden base. While the thin plastic seat is fixed to a loadbearing wooden ring by an ingenious plug-in mechanism - without the use of any screws - the back features two web-like vertical projections that are inserted into precision-milled grooves of the elongated rear chair legs. It is intelligent solutions like these, especially in light of recycling issues, that make this harmoniously proportioned chair such an exceptional design despite the initial impressions of normality.
Rotterdam Chair, design Hella Jongerius
In her work, Jongerius often seeks points of connection in the history of design, with the specific traditions of her native Holland playing a central role. She is primarily interested in the images of interiors and objects stored in our collective memories. Time and again, she turns to this reservoir of images to find motifs that she incorporates into her designs with intelligence and occasional irony. Through formal references as well as through the selection of materials and colour, she succeeds both in evoking associations and in defining the atmospheric effect generated by her objects. With the chair, Jongerius puts forward her interpretation of the classic robust wooden chair. The triple-stacking seat is conceived as a type of standard chair and gives an initial impression of solidity and comfort. The Rotterdam Chair consists of a proven combination of solid wood construction and organically shaped plywood elements and follows in the established tradition of the wooden frame chair. The design might initially give a "déja-vu" impression yet its qualities reveal themselves in an abundance of details and the success of the composition. For instance, the slight tapering of the front chair legs and the sharp bend between the rear legs and the back give the robust construction a certain lightness and dynamic, while the ingenious connections between the components underscore the care taken in the manufacturing process. A translucent coloured inlay at the back edge of the seat not only creates a colourful accent, but also highlights the necessity of putting a notch here in the three-dimensional moulding of the plywood.
Slow Chair & Ottoman, design Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
This inviting lounge piece, which counts Eero Saarinen's famous Womb Chair as well as Hans J. Wegner's Flag Halyard Lounge Chair among its typological and aesthetic "ancestors", uses an extremely strong, precisely shaped knit which is stretched over the frame of the chair like a fitted stocking. The frame is merely comprised of tubular steel ring for the seat, a screwed-on bow-shaped extension that forms the contour of the arms, backrest and four cast aluminium legs. On the periphery of the fabric, where the textile membrane is connected to the frame, the densely knit edge casings completely conceal the enclosed steel tubing. The knitted sling cover gives the armchair its essential comfort. A light inlayed seat cushion and two small backrest cushions increase the softness and augment the excellent ergonomic qualities of the chair. Thanks to the thin translucence of the fabric sling, this generously proportioned piece of furniture is amazingly lightweight - both visually and physically. Consequently, it is easy to move the Slow Chair from one place to another, and it is also suited for temporary outdoor use. The subtly concave surface of the Slow Chair Ottoman is just slightly lower than the seat of the companion armchair. Its symmetrical tubular steel frame can be described as a rectangle with rounded corners and gently bowed sides. The short sides of the frame are mounted on two pairs of cast-aluminium legs. Like the chair, the ottoman is also covered with a fitted knit sling, and a flat cushion provides added comfort.
Soft Shell Sofa, design Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
In the design of it, two aspects were of overriding importance according to Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: "One, seating comfort and two, the social function of a settee." The sofa comprises three essential elements: the steel tube support structure, the body which consists of a base board as well as the back and side panels and the padding in the form of seat, back and arm rest cushions, the sumptuous upholstery of which gives the furniture its outstanding seating comfort. The back and side panels, which are curved slightly outwards, are flexible thanks to the steel springs hidden deep within and held together by elastic belts. They form a sort of basket for the upholstery and their flexibility further increases the comfort of the sofa. In addition, because of their narrow cross-section, they are ideal for space saving. The Bouroullecs have defined two options for the sofa, which, in terms of form, ties in with the aesthetics of the classic moderns - one tends to think of certain chairs by Le Corbusier. The Soft Shell Sofa has a slightly raised back panel and is fitted with fairly firm seat, back and arm cushions in order to make more formal sitting possible. The Low Soft Shell Sofa on the other hand has lower back panels and softer padded cushions, which means that more emphasis is put on the aspect of comfort. Both sofas have the option of being equipped with lamps and trays.
Algue, design Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
Reminiscent of plants, these plastic elements have a delicate appearance, yet are flexible and extremely robust. Simple decorative elements of a curiously poetic character, they can be linked together in a wide variety of ways to form web-like textures - from trellises or light curtains to opaque, thick plastic hedges made of several layers of interlinked it that can be used as room dividers. Appealing to the creativity of the user, this standardised, industrially produced module offers plenty of scope for tailor-made solutions. The transparent Algue now provides the opportunity to create an almost invisible room divider while playing with light effects.
The Worker Sofa, design Hella Jongerius
Jongerius designed it first and foremost as furniture for communication. With its compact dimensions the informal two-seater, which is technically more or less a doubling of the seat designed by her with the same name, is ideal for the kitchen, the conservatory or the reading room. But because of its seating comfort, its dignified workmanship and its pleasing details, the The Worker Sofa also cuts a good figure in the living room or in a lobby. Jongerius has succeeded in producing a particularly evocative piece of furniture which, with its formal appearance and its singular mix of materials, successfully appeals to our collective sense of history. This explains why this sofa, though actually a new design, seems somehow pleasantly familiar to us.
The Worker, design Hella Jongerius
"Form follows feeling" - with this personally revised version of the modernist credo "form follows function", Jongerius describes a fundamental principle of her design philosophy. One of the central aims of her work is to breach the strict boundaries between mass-produced industrial products and unique handcrafted objects. The synthesis of these seemingly contradictory approaches to design has resulted in novel products with a strongly individual character. The Worker armchair, Jongerius' latest design for the Vitra Home Collection, derives its unusual appeal from the intriguing combination of obviously handcrafted elements and technologically sophisticated features. The impression of handmade, down-to-earth solidity stems from the stocky compactness of the seat cushion as well as the visible base, whose square section oak frame recalls half-timbered construction. Modernity and new technologies, on the other hand, are evident in the complex shapes of the CNC-lathed wooden armrests and the lacquered aluminium connectors that join them to the wooden backrest. The striking character of The Worker relies to a large degree on the selection of upholstery materials. The voluminous seat and loose two-layer back cushions are covered with different kinds of materials, both fabric and leather. In this way, Jongerius has developed a composition of varying textures and carefully co-ordinated colours. The high back cushion is enhanced by leather edge panels with a practical, integrated handle strap on the top. The small front cushion is accented with two decorative buttons.
Commenting on her inspiration for this armchair, whose unusual distinctiveness is complemented by its friendly, congenial nature, Jongerius says: "I am highly interested in furniture made from solid wood, in craftsmanship done by carpenters. It holds the collective memory of people; wood gives us trust, honesty, slow life, a feeling of being at home. Working with this material was out of the picture for a long time because it is not sexy and contemporary. But why is innovation always connected with high-tech and plastics? I tried to work like a contemporary carpenter. The search was for a small fauteuil which gives comfort, a size that embraces the body and fits in smaller places. To celebrate the wood, a part of the construction on the back is visible. The front part is comfortable upholstery, it slides into the wood. Some of the fabrics look like a worker's clothes, but there is a brightly coloured, comfortable pillow which gives support in the lower back. The armrest shows the soft face of wood, as if it was rolling in a river for years. And by its production method it is a high-tech object".
Polder Sofa, design Hella Jongerius
It marks the beginning of the intensive collaboration of the designer and Vitra. Its name is suggestive of a source of inspiration for the designer. In Holland, the word Polder describes land which has been artificially reclaimed from the sea by the laying of dykes and drainage ditches which - at least in its idealised appearance - lies in the water like a flat, extensive cushion of grass. The cushions, which are surprisingly different from each other in their dimensions, form the seating surface and back-rest of the sofa. While the asymmetrically constructed body has one narrower side which forms an arm-rest, on the other side it has free space which is used for a removable cushion and which also makes room for books, newspapers or a tray. The body and cushions of it are covered with different fabrics in carefully matched colour tones. Jongerius has defined five versions of this play of colours and textures which emphasises the asymmetry of the sofa. With the Polder Sofa XS she has carried the diversity of fabric qualities and colours over to the coloured quilting seams and ornamental buttons. Among the trademark features of the Polder Sofa there are also the strikingly large upholstery buttons produced from different natural materials. Sewn to the cushions using a High-Tech thread in bold colours, they provide details which make each sofa a unique item.
Park Sofa, design Jasper Morrison
In addition to the Park Sofa available as two and three-seaters, the Park Family designed by Jasper Morrison also includes the Park Armchair and the Park Swivel Armchair. With their timeless, clean lines which follow a cubist style, the members of the Park Family more or less epitomise the archetypal image of classic-modern upholstered furniture. Also classic is the construction principle on which this furniture is based: the combination of a solid structure and soft upholstery results in outstanding comfort regardless of the position in which one settles down on the sofa. Thanks to their elegant yet restrained formal appearance, the members of the Park Family, which are available in numerous colour and material options (both fabric and leather covering) can simply be introduced wherever upholstered furniture is used. The seat upholstery is also offered in two different degrees of firmness. With flame-retardant materials, the Park Family is also suitable for the furnishing area without restriction.
Wiggle Stool, design Frank Gehry
From 1969 to 1973, Frank Gehry developed "Easy Edges" - an extensive collection of seats and tables demonstrating the versatility of cardboard as an unusual yet inexpensive material for furniture. The Wiggle Stool - the smallest piece of cardboard furniture designed by Gehry - is now being produced for the first time. Reminiscent of an African stool in terms of its dimensions and contour, the stool makes a charming addition to any living arrangement.
Garden Egg, design Peter Ghyczy
It was originally intended to be a garden chair. At that time Ghyczy was working for the synthetics manufacturer in Lemförde. As leader of the design department, his tasks included exploring suitable areas of application for what were then new and particularly promising synthetic materials. The most prominent and later legendary example of this work was the Garden Egg. As the name of the chair implies, this is an egg-shaped object with a flat underside and a folding top. When open, the top forms the backrest. Inside there are soft cushions for comfort. When closed, the weatherproof, rain-proof shell ensures that the chair can be kept outside all year round. Shortly after production started, synthetics production and manufacture of it were sold to VEB-Synthese-Werk in Schwarzheide. Until the mid 1970s the East-German firm manufactured items mainly for export to western markets. Since 1998 production of it has been based at Ghyczy Selection in the Netherlands.
Ribbon Chair, design Pierre Paulin
The enthusiastic, progressive atmosphere of the 1960s and Paulin's sculptural training were influential factors in the design of the chair. The curving loops of its shape, covered in colourful upholstery fabrics or psychedelic patterns by Jack Lenor Larsen, give it a captivating, futuristic appeal. The seat, backrest and armrests of the chair have a unified metal frame that is completely covered with foam upholstery and stretch fabric. The seat is mounted on a lacquered pedestal made of pressed wood. The development of the Ribbon Chair was facilitated by technological innovations during the Sixties, which led to the production of inexpensive synthetic foams. This period also saw the introduction of novel elastic fabrics that could be used to envelop a complex contoured shape without folds or intricate seams. The biomorphic, slightly resilient seat of the chair allows a wide variety of sitting positions and provides a high degree of seating comfort.
Stools, design Charles & Ray Eames
Charles and Ray Eames received a commission to design the interiors of three lobbies in the new Time & Life Building at Rockefeller Center in New York City. In addition to outfitting these spaces, this major project encompassed the development of the comfortably upholstered a group of stools made out of solid walnut. The lathe-turned Stools, which were also conceived by Ray to be used as small occasional tables, have distinctive individual profiles. The sculptural and decorative character of the Stools makes the most striking impression when they are grouped together. These pieces were inspired by an African stool that stood in the living room of the Eames House, as shown in a photographic series by Monique Jacot from the year 1959.
Lounge Chair & Ottoman, design Charles & Ray Eames
A new interpretation of one of the great 20th-century classics. In the mid 1950s, Charles and Ray Eames designed the Lounge Chair & Ottoman as a modern interpretation of the traditional English club armchair. Featuring black leather cushions, a dark palisander veneer and black painted aluminium, this classic version of the Lounge Chair went on to become an icon. However, a number of different versions of the Lounge Chair have been produced since the 1950s. The Eames even produced a model with fabric covers for showrooms. There was great demand in particular for a version with white leather upholstery. However, as all the other elements of the chair were dark in colour, this version was only offered occasionally as a special edition. In collaboration with the Eames Office, Vitra now presents a 'light' version of the Lounge Chair. Instead of blossom white, the leather upholstery is more of a greyish, off-white shade, which fits in better with the character of the piece. To match this, the plywood shells have a varnished walnut veneer and the base is in polished aluminium. To ensure the consistency of the design down to the tiniest detail, the zips on the cushions are in the same colour as the leather, as are the inner surfaces of the wooden shells and the metal strips under the armrests. The spacers on the backrests and the gliders on the chair's aluminium base are also styled to match the white upholstery. With its fresh, light appearance, the Eames Lounge Chair in white is yet another affirmation of the lasting appeal of this classic design.
Plywood Elephant, design Charles & Ray Eames
The latest addition to the Vitra Design Museum's Miniatures Collection, the Eames Plywood Elephant is considered a legend by collectors. Only two prototypes were produced in 1945, both of which were subsequently displayed in an exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Today, only one known model remains in the possession of the Eames Family. Charles and Ray Eames were fascinated by elephants. Many images of these gentle giants are found in Charles' photographic documentations of Indian culture and the circus world. This miniature 1:6-scale model is available in natural maple.
Eames House Bird
Charles and Ray Eames liked to surround themselves with traditional craft objects from around the world, which they collected on their extensive travels. One of their favourite objects was a bird made of black painted wood that was produced in the Appalachian Mountains at the beginning of the 20th century. The figure accompanied them from the 1950s onwards and can be seen in many photographs of the Eames' living room. Based on the original artefact and in cooperation with the Eames Family, Vitra is now producing the first series of this figure.
Modulor, design Le Corbusier
The Modulor is regarded as the most important modern attempt to develop a mathematically coherent measurement system based on the proportions of the human body. Le Corbusier's corresponding book on the subject, Le Modulor, is still valued as a standard work in the field of modern architectural history. During the architect's lifetime, only a few samples of this measuring tape were created for his personal use in the design of building projects. An original artefact in the holdings of the Fondation Le Corbusier served as the model for this new edition by the Vitra Design Museum. It is an ideal gift for every architectural enthusiast.
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