words Anna Bates
Vitra has launched a series of experimental, limited-edition pieces by 15 established designers. The Vitra Edition collection, which is the second since 1987, is a research project that allows designers to create pieces free from market constraints, though some will eventually be manufactured.
For the 2007 collection, designers were given a simple brief: “We asked them what they’d wanted to do but hadn’t had an opportunity to do before,” says Vitra chairman Rolf Fehlbaum.
Office Pets by Hella Jongerius is a collection of decorative, handcrafted objects stitched in leather and attached to the bases of swivel chairs. Konstantin Grcic designed Landen, an industrial-looking park bench inspired by the Apollo Lunar Lander. The circular steel bench is so heavy it has to be installed by crane.
“Constraints in design are getting greater,” says Fehlbaum. “And these constraints can make pieces very vague, so we had a desire to experiment again.” Naoto Fukasawa produced a collection of nine chairs made from materials including marble, concrete, felt, polyurethane coating, wicker and hay – the cleverest mimicked a Samsonite suitcase – while Jasper Morrison’s Cork chair and side table were precision milled from blocks of recycled wine-bottle corks.
Although many were experimenting with production methods, Fehlbaum sees the progression from the original 1987 collection as more conceptual. “The main progress that has been made is in the questions that the designers are asking. It’s 20 years later – we’re in a different landscape of issues.”
Other contributors to the collection include Vitra regulars Ron Arad and the Bouroullecs, while new collaborators include Jurgen Bey, Tokujin Yoshioka, Jürgen Mayer H and Zaha Hadid.