Vitra is a Swiss manufacturer of furniture that works with many internationally renowned designers. Based between Switzerland and Germany, its factory in Weil am Rhein is a working ‘campus’ of architecturally significant buildings designed by Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Jean Prouvé, among others.
The latest addition to the campus is VitraHaus, a showroom created by Herzog & de Meuron that became an instant icon. Dedicated to Vitra’s home collection it offers a journey through an eclectic furniture collection from classic to contemporary. Working with Vitra’s in-house architectural team, GTF was commissioned to create environmental graphics throughout the building.
Responding to the varied areas of the Haus and in keeping with Vitra’s spirit of ‘collage’, the graphic scheme combined understatement (internal and external directional signage) with stronger interventions, such as the welcoming party of Alexander Girard dolls painted directly on to the lobby wall or the Eames Hang-It-All balls that become oversized drawing pins. Looking to use materials with homely associations a proposal for over-sized door numbers slip-cast in ceramic floor numbers was prototyped, but ultimately was not realised in the final signage system.
Visitors to the VitraHaus are given a unique ‘HausKey’ containing a personalised RFID tag, which can be used to collect product information from data terminals around the building. GTF’s original proposal for this was based on an imaginary key to the stack of simplified houses that form the building’s shape.
GTF continues to work with Vitra to develop the graphic language for this iconic space, which sees footfall of 300,000 a year.
Bird illustration: Kam Tang
VitraHaus exterior photograph: © Iwan Baan 2010