After spending nearly a year by the Lake Constance I haven’t done half of what I had planned to do. Instead of enjoying the art scene in Basel and Zurich, go skiing or travel to France, I did talks, seminars and wrote applications that would be declined. Side note: Academic career sucks hard. So, let me focus on some beautiful things like classic furniture. On sunny Sunday afternoon I decided my convertible needed some fresh air and I took it on a long ride to the Vitra Campus near Basel. Home to the furniture design brand Vitra, founded in 1953, with a history of craftsmanship that goes back to the late 19th century.
The Vitra Campus consists of a huge numbers of buildings by the most famous architects of our times. Tadao Ando built his first building outside of Japan here. Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry built landmark buildings on campus. And many more world famous architects like Nicholas Grimshaw, Álvaro Siza or Richard Buckminster Fuller designed buildings in the production area. The place is a must for architecture enthusiasts.
History of Furniture Design
The Vitra Campus is most impressive for its architecture. The VitraHouse is showing contemporary piece arranged in living rooms. This is more like a shopping area and not too impressive. It’s never very becoming to arrange designs from one brand just like in a catalogue without breaking it by other pieces or styles. But the Vitra Campus is also a sales point, so never mind. What really is worth a visit is the Vitra Schaudepot. That’s a real depot with pieces (mainly chairs) from before 1900 until today. It’s a show of great beauty like the classic Mies van der Rohe chairs (Barcelona chair, my all time favorite) and some very unique and curious things from the 70s and 80s. It’s a wild ride through the history of sitting furniture.
Vitra Campus also feature changing exhibitions. This time it was Night Fever (ends 09.09.2018), on the design of clubs from the beginning of club culture in Italy in the 1960 until today. I wasn’t too thrilled since I’m more of a cocktail bar kinda girl. Well, I had to change my mind. Diving into the glorious days of disco was fun. And who’d guessed that the first clubs not only emerged in New York but also in Italy? The exhibition gets you in the mood to dig out the old glitter dresses, get a wavy hairstyle and David Bowie make up. But no worries, the room that takes you on a trip to the Berlin club culture around the Millennium will soon blow away too much glitter. It was one of the few exhibitions that gives a real feel of the course of time.
At the moment there is another intellectual inspiring exhibition on the works of the Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma, Beyond the Surface (18.08.-2018-20.01.2019). She works on the origins of materials and their life cycles. This topic has a huge momentum in fashion theory and production. The Vitra Campus is the perfect destination for a sunny day, even if you just stroll around the architecture. It’s a good contrast to the general cuteness of the deep south of Germany.