Vitra

Information by wikipedia

Type Privately held company
Founded 1950
Headquarters Birsfelden, Switzerland
Production locations: Weil am Rhein (D); Neuenburg (D); Allentown, Pennsylvania (USA)
Key people Willi Fehlbaum, founder
Rolf Fehlbaum, director
Products Designer furniture
Website vitra.com

Vitra is a Swiss (originally German) manufacturer of designer furniture. Vitra is the European manufacturer and retailer of the works of many internationally renowned furniture designers. It is also known for the works of notable architects that make up its premises in Weil am Rhein, Germany, as well as for its sponsorship of the Vitra Design Museum.

History and corporate architecture

Vitra was founded in Weil am Rhein, Germany, in 1950 by Willi Fehlbaum, the owner of a furniture shop in nearby Basel, Switzerland. In the following years, Fehlbaum acquired licences for the designs of Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson.

After a major fire destroyed the Vitra facilities in 1981, British architect Nicholas Grimshaw was commissioned to design a new factory building. The aluminium factory hall, ready for production in only six months after the fire, was complemented by another production building by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza in 1986. In 1989, it was followed by a factory building by Frank O. Gehry. Gehry also constructed the Vitra Design Museum building, which was originally intended to house the private furniture collection of Vitra’s owner Rolf Fehlbaum.

In 1993, Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid added a fire station – her first completed building – to the premises. The fire station now houses the Design Museum’s international collection of designer chairs. In the same year, a conference pavilion of Japanese architect Tadao Ando was also constructed on the Vitra grounds. It was Ando’s first work outside Japan.

In 1994, the Vitra administrative staff moved from Weil to the company’s new headquarters (also designed by Frank O. Gehry) in nearby Birsfelden, Switzerland, while Álvaro Siza added a design shop building to the Weil factory. A 1960s geodesic dome by U.S. architect Buckminster Fuller was set up at Weil in 2000, to serve as a meeting hall, and in 2003, a petrol station by the French designer Jean Prouvé was also moved in.

Products

Vitra’s product line consists of designer furniture for use in offices, homes and public areas. Apart from the company’s own designs, it also manufactures and distributes the works of designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Verner Panton, Antonio Citterio, Philippe Starck, Borek Sipek, Mario Bellini, Glen Oliver Löw, Dieter Thiel, Jasper Morrison, Alberto Meda, Ron Arad, Maarten Van Severen and Jean Prouvé.

Awards and projects

Vitra’s director and products have received numerous design-related awards by international organizations, according to the company’s website. Vitra products have been used in numerous high-profile settings, including the plenary chamber of the German Bundestag, the Tate Modern gallery, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Dubai International Airport, EuroAirport Basel and the 2000 World’s Fair Expo 2000 in Hanover.

Locations

As of 2006, the company’s website lists national subsidiaries in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the United States and Singapore. Vitra also has showrooms in numerous international cities.

Vitra design museum

VitraHaus



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