Last night vitra. hosted a launch party for their new “at home” furniture line which is a melange of classic (think Josef Albers, Jean Prouve, Verner Panton) and new designs (from Jasper Morrison and Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec.) The press materials describe it as “an ongoing and metamorphosing enterprise” that is “a rebuttal to finished solutions and stylistic uniformity.” (Pottery Barn, anyone?)
I would argue that these furnishings have already established a certain uniformity. Seems like the Eames Plywood Lounge Chair or Saarinen’s Womb Chair have become the standard trophies of the aspirational set. It sure beats Lay-Z-Boy though, in spite of Todd Oldham‘s efforts on their behalf.
The gist of this line is good – it encourages mixing old with new and presents the furnishings as elements rather than package deals. It assumes that the customer will make it theirs, with their own individual flair. It’s a good thing too, because I think I might turn into a homicidal maniac if I spent every evening in a living room so very red as the one I took a shot of here.
The store also functions as a museum of sorts. All the square placards around the rooms explain the provenance of the designs, the issue dates, have photos from their first publications, etc. It’s a great education in design philosphies from mid-century to modern. Also, as one of my party companions Daniel commented, it was refreshing to see the prices displayed along with all the rapturous descriptions of the furnishings. It’s nice when you don’t have to ask.
The Josef Albers nesting side tables left me exhausted with acquisitive lust. So gorgeous. Goodness. The colors are deeply saturated, like I like them, but earthier than a lot of the other offerings in the room – a rich blue, a warm orange rather than the screaming oranges and aggressive greens that were found elsewhere. They also felt delightful. The tabletops were described as being “Acrylic Glass”. Now, I’m not quite sure what that means really, but when I tapped it with my fingernail it felt like proper glass and looking at the table top sideways, the color refracted through it in a glass-like way. WANT. Alas, at a retail price of $1830, it’s a bit beyond my current means.
We arrived early, so a lot of my photos show the room as sparsely populated. It filled up quickly though – I was somewhat surprised by such a big showing of posh people on a Sunday evening. After I stopped drooling over the sidetables, I joined my friends in the seating area just ahead of the bar, pictured at left. Those close to the ground lounge chairs (Panton’s Amoebe) are very comfy, but I’d prefer them in a different color. There were also cork stools (no, really) by Jasper Morrison that proved comfortable enough for my companions (who had smaller butts than my own.)
The green reef-like structure that fanned out above us was a source of endless fascination and speculation. It was built from the Bouroullec’s Algue modules, which are available in several colors and come in sets of 6 or sets of 50. I don’t know that you could do much with 6 of them, but they sure are fun to play with. (I’m happy to report that a single Algue (sp?) was included with my press materials.)
All these things are available at the vitra. store, and their site provides a lot more information than I’ve been able to here. Although, I must register a grouse about the site – thanks to their spiffy Flash interface, it’s impossible for me to point you directly to information about any single product. Instead I can just give you the home page for their at home line, and let you find the stuff on your own. But, that’s OK – you’re smart, you can do it.