Vitra with it's headquarters in Birsfelden and production sides at Weil am Rhein is well known for it's famous furniture designs and designers. Names such as Herman Miller, Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton, Jasper Morrison and Antonio Citterio come to mind in connection with the swiss-family owned furniture company.
But there is so much more to it: The owners enthusiasm for architecture let to a growing exhibition of architecture by the most famous architects on their ground. Factory buildings by Nicholas Grimshaw (built 1981/83) and Frank Gehry (1989), the Conference Pavillion by Tadao Ando (1993) and of course the well-known Fire Station - Zaha Hadid`s first completed building are some examples. Newer architectural masterpieces are the Logistics and Production Hall by SANAA and the Vitra House by the Swiss based office Herzog & de Meuron. All architects later in their careers became winners of the Pulitzker Award.
Fascinated by the unique architectural ensemble we did a tour of the Vitra Campus and learnt about the story, the buildings and the many details making the buildings so unique.
Our first highlight, the Logistic and Factory Hall, which was designed by the Japanese architectural office SANAA, is surrounded by a white undulating curtain of acrylic panels reflecting the colour of the sky. Visiting on a cloudy and rainy day the building seemed like a ghost to us.
Our next stop was the Conference Pavillion designed by self-taught architect Tadao Ando - his first work outside of Japan. When entering the building you are surrounded by an atmosphere of calm and concentration. The materials Tadao Ando used are concrete - the composition formulated by Tadao Ando himself for it's very smooth surface - and oak. The centerpiece of the building is a courtyard below the terrain so it is nestling between apple trees and you have the impression to be surrounded only by nature.
One of the latest additions - the VitraHaus designed by Herzog & de Meuron was the place where we spent most of our time with the entire range of the Vitra products - a heaven for designers.
We could not leave without visiting the great exhibition "Night Fever" in the Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry. We were taken on a fascinating journey through a world of glamour and subcultures... examples from Italian clubs of the 1960s to the legendary Studio 54 where Andy Warhol was a regular - fashion, interior design, music and the great John Travolta at Saturday Night Fever got us inspired for our Saturday night ;)!