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The success story of the Vitra AG is combined with unique furniture. The company, headquartered in Birsfelden, Switzerland, is now represented in 14 countries with independent branches, and is the producer and distributor of world-famous home furniture and exclusive designer office furniture
Vitra – The beginning:
Willi Fehlbaum takes over a shop building business in Birsfelden, Basel at the age of 20. He and his wife Erika continued to expand the business into a furniture company, whose production was moved to the German city of Weil am Rhein after the war. Fehlbaum gave the company the name.
The company's history begins in 1950.
A trip to the USA in 1953 was decisive: Willi Fehlbaum discovered the exhibits by Charles and Ray Eames. The furniture fascinated him and he immediately and spontaneously tried to get the distribution licenses. He finally got it from the furniture manufacturer Herman Miller who was already very successful in the USA.
After the acquisition of the license in 1953, the founders Willi and Erika Fehlbaum began to produce the Eames furniture exclusively for the European market. The Lounge Chair and the accompanying Ottoman are among the most important and famous designs. To this day, the design furniture is one of the most successful products in the company's history.
Only a few years later, in 1957, the success story of Vitra continued through further licensing competitions: above all the European rights for the furniture of the designers George Nelson, Alexander Girard and Isamu Noguchi.
The next coup:
At the beginning of the sixties Vitra made another coup: a collaboration with Verner Panton, one of the most important and influential designers of the 20th century. He brought pop art to the furniture world. Panton had a passion for artificial materials, and Vitra finally succeeded in making the one-piece chair unimaginable: Willi Fehlbaum produced the Panton chair of the Danish designer in 1967, the first Cantilever from a single cast. The Panton Chair was known worldwide.
The first own product:
In 1976 Vitra developed their first product. The Vitramat office chair.
Since its introduction, the form of the Vitramat has set standards in the form and design of office chairs. Through his unique and ingenious appearance, the Vitramat became a designer chair icon: he received numerous awards and the federal prize for good shape in 1979. He was also selected for the Stuttgart Design Center and the Design Center NRW.
Exclusive office furniture, office equipment and home furniture
Rolf Fehlbaum, the oldest son of Willi and Erika, took over the management of Vitra in 1977. A large number of new products were created in the following years. Rolf Fehlbaum focused Vitra on high-quality and exclusive office furniture, office equipment and home furniture. Through innovative and new manufacturing methods, he succeeded in developing Vitra into one of the leading companies in design and furniture. Vitra's well-known customers include, for example, Coca-Cola, the EU Commission in Brussels, Lufthansa and the Bundestag in Berlin. The partnership with Herman Miller was resolved by mutual consent in 1984. The rights to the design of the designs of George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames for Europe and the Middle East passed over to Vitra. The team of well-known designers, who gave the Vitra products its shape, is long: Antonio Citterio is responsible for the AC4 office swivel chair. Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec designed numerous pieces alongside the Softshell chair and Algue. Frank Gehry created the headquarters on campus and the design museum.
Campus and Design-Museum
Rolf Fehlbaum expanded the production site in Weil am Rhein, Germany to the Vitra Campus. Previously, the production area was nearly completely destroyed after a major fire in 1981. These include the Vitra Design Museum, opened in 1989 and the VitraHaus (2010), which he devoted to his mother Erika Fehlbaum. For the construction of the Vitra Campus, Rolf Fehlbaum commissioned renowned architects such as Zaha Hadid, Nicolas Grimshaw, Frank O. Gehry, Tadao Ando and others. The design museum was founded in 1989 by the company and its owner Rolf Fehlbaum. After smaller exhibitions in the first years, the museum gained international attention in the 90s through larger exhibitions on Eames furniture, Louis Barragán and other architects. The museum offers hiking exhibitions and has its own product lines. The miniature collection is particularly worth mentioning. The original replicas of famous furniture designs in miniature format have already been produced by the Design Museum for more than 20 years. Today the museum is one of the leading museums in design. At the beginning of June 2016, the design museum opened a showcase. There, the museum presents the central objects of its extensive collection to the public.
For more than 50 years design furniture classics
Vitra stands for designer furniture classics. Many Eames designs have become icons of the 20th century.
The most famous classics are the Alu Chairs, the Vitra Lounge Chair with Ottoman, the Eames Elephant and not to forget the Eames Plastic Side Chair in the different versions DSW, DSR, DAW, DAR, RAR ... etc.
Eames Plastic Chair - The legendary chair
It is the result of intensive work by Charles and Ray Eames. The duo has been working on the idea of a one-piece seat shell for some time, and attempts to use other materials such as sheet metal and plywood have not yet produced the desired result. Ultimately, fiberglass reinforced polyester resin proved to be the most suitable material. At this time a real novelty, as this material was previously unknown in the furniture industry. The presentation of the finished chair followed a little later at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1950 it was time. The seat and plastic trays with armrests were the first mass-produced plastic chairs in the history of furniture.
Today, Vitra manufactures the multifunctional chair made of environmentally friendly polypropylene. Various colors, upholstery and bases allow for thousands of possible combinations.
In the shop you can freely configure the Vitra Eames Chair in different versions DSW, DSR, DAW, DAR, RAR and order your desired model.
The cooperation with renowned architects, designers and artists makes the comprehensive portfolio of extraordinary and practical furniture possible. In addition to renowned design figures such as Verner Panton, Frank Gehry, George Nelson and Jean Prouvé, the works of Charles and Ray Eames Panton occupy a very special place in the manufacturer's history.
Many Eames designs have become icons of the 20th century. You can find almost all furniture in the pro office shop.
The production of the furniture designs by the designer couple marks the beginning of the history of the Swiss furniture manufacturer. Among the legendary designs are the plastic, lounge, aluminum chairs and many more. The famous Eames House and the exhibition of their furniture in many well-known museums and institutions help to be one of the most important personalities of design history.
Exhibitions and Prizes: First place "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" of the Museum of Modern Art, New York 1940, exhibition of designs with deformed plywood at the Museum of Modern Art, NY 1946, "Low Cost Furntiure" competition of the Musem of Modern Art , NY 1948, construction of the Eames House in 1949, "Qu'est-ce que le design?" Exhibition at the Paris Museum "Musée des Arts Décoratifs 1969", "Furniture by Charles Eames" Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, NY 1973.
Verner Panton was fascinated by the possibilities that came his way when new plastics came onto the market. He experimented with the various forms and resorted to a clear range of rainbow colors. His works appear sculpturally, the design is unconventional, playful and daring. His works include many special pieces. He was instrumental in the design of the chair "The Ant", one of the masterpieces of Arne Jacobsen. The Wire Cone Chair finally drew the world's attention to the design vocabulary of Verner Panton.
The cooperation with Vitra brought to light the realization of the legendary Panton Chair. A chair made of a single piece of plastic. A design icon and a timeless chair that Vitra continues to manufacture and distribute. Of course, you will also find the Panton Chair here in the shop, in bright colors and also as a junior version.
The designer and architect is considered one of the most important architects in the USA. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but also the Gehry Tower in Hanover are famous examples of its deconstructivist architecture. Over the course of his career, Gehry limited himself again and again to "simple" materials such as cardboard, sheet metal or plywood. It created fascinating buildings and furniture. Last but not least are the Wiggle Stool and the Wiggle Side Chair. Vitra offers these and other exceptional products to this day.
He is a key figure in design history. As a design director, he brought design greats such as Isamu Noguchi, Alexander Girard and Charles & Ray Eames to Herman Miller. In 1957 he began working with Vitra. Numerous furniture icons are still available today. Not to forget the numerous clocks in various designs, such as the Sunflower Clock, the Polygon Clock or the series of colorful timepieces with animal motifs, such as Fernando the Fish or Omar the Owl.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
Since 1999, the two brothers work together in their design studio in Paris. Her field of work is not limited to the furniture design alone. With all sorts of different objects of daily use and projects in the field of architecture they prove their diversity. Vitra has implemented a large number of designs, from the decorative wooden figure to the comfortable Lounge Chair. In our shop you will find u.a. the extraordinary and practical algues and the organically shaped chair Vegetal.