Embrace the magic of nature! Biophilic design – a friendly path to a sustainable future
It is well known that nature has a positive impact on our well-being and mood. For instance, taking a short walk in nature can help us relax and quickly enhance our overall health, making us happier, less stressed, and more creative. However, we can enjoy the same benefits even in our workspaces. Biophilic design focuses on the connection between people and nature, creating more conducive environments that also contribute to a sustainable future.
Over the past years, biophilic design has become a popular trend all around the world. This innovative approach to architecture seeks to incorporate natural elements into the design of buildings. By prioritising the innate human need to be closer to nature, biophilic design aims to improve the quality of life.
In fact, biophilic design can be considered an ideal solution for transforming an indoor space into a natural haven. The idea of bringing the outdoors in can be applied in different types of spaces, such as homes and workplaces. In this simple way, architects and interior designers can enhance both aesthetics and functionality of a space.
Nowadays, many companies are embracing this fascinating concept of biophilia and implementing it into their workspaces to ensure a healthier and more inspiring environments, that promote both physical and mental well-being.
By strategically placing plants throughout the office, especially in open office areas or meeting rooms, employees can experience a more focused atmosphere. Plants contribute to a better air quality, absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen into the environment; they also play an essential role in reducing noise levels, improving the acoustic properties of the workspaces.
Featuring natural elements such as greenery, colours or textures, materials like wood and stones, and high levels of light, the biophilic offices influence employee productivity and satisfaction. Furthermore, biophilic design can boost people’s cognitive performance. For example, a study conducted in 2017 by Harvard University revealed a significant correlation between working in spaces with greenery and increased cognitive functioning. People who worked in green offices experienced an outstanding 26% increase in their cognitive abilities.
Examples of biophilic design
Natural materials can be successfully used in any office design, bringing the magic of nature to interior environments. For examples, wood and stones floorings are aesthetically appealing, highly durable, and suitable for high-traffic areas.
Plants and greenery can transform ordinary workspaces into comfortable places to be in. Moreover, a natural plant wall can make a clear statement in any environment, helping employees to stay in touch with nature. Placing plant pots on desks is a simple yet effective method to bring a touch of nature into the workspace.
Benefits of biophilic design
One of the most important benefits of biophilic design is its capacity to relieve stress. Nature exposure can have relaxing effects on the mind and body, lowering stress levels and boosting general mental health. A green office provides a breath of fresh air, promoting a positive work atmosphere. Besides, a space where employees are surrounded by plants and natural elements can give them the feeling of working outdoors, in nature.
A biophilic office facilitates collaboration, social interaction, and community engagement. It also encourages creativity. Not only does it create a more aesthetically pleasing space, but it also provides a sense of connection to nature, which can drive innovative thinking and problem-solving. This can be very useful in workplaces or public spaces where interaction and communication are crucial.
Biophilic design also has a lot of environmental benefits. Buildings’ ecological footprint can be reduced by using sustainable materials and energy-efficient technologies. By maximizing daylight in work environments, it is possible to minimize the need for artificial lightning, leading to energy savings.
#TheOriginals: Panton Chair – a classic in the history of furniture design
The Panton Chair’s curves have become an iconic sight, even though when Verner Panton first proposed the chair to manufacturers in the 1950s, they all considered it a daring concept and even an impossibility. All but Vitra, who embraced the innovative design and, together with Panton, took up the challenge of bringing it to market. It didn’t take long until this revolutionary chair achieved the status of a classic in the history of furniture design.
Did you know that the Panton Chair was the first product developed for serial production by Vitra in collaboration with a designer? In fact, the history of the Panton Chair begins in the latter half of the 1950s, when Danish designer Verner Panton explored the idea of a cantilever chair made entirely of plastic. Shortly after, he began looking for a manufacturer to produce this masterpiece, but most of them did not want to persue this concept.
“Rolf [Fehlbaum, son of the Vitra founding family] came to visit us one day and spotted a prototype of the Panton chair. It wasn‘t stable enough to sit on. Rolf asked: ‘Why isn‘t this chair being manufactured?’ I answered, ‘Fifteen to twenty manufacturers have tried it but have all rejected the project for different reasons.’ A well-known American designer – not Eames – even declared that something like that shouldn‘t be called a ‘chair’– claiming it was not suitable to sit on. Rolf was immediately on the phone to a Vitra technician, Manfred Diebold. […] Without Rolf there would have been no Panton Chair.” – Verner Panton
So, the year 1963 marked the start of his collaboration with Vitra, and the Panton Chair was launched on the market in 1967. It turned out to be a nearly impossible challenge, as the bold contours imagined by the designer had to be reconciled with the physical limits of plastics technology and manufacturing requirements. It involved several years of research, testing, discarded designs and continuous prototype development. The final shape of the chair was the result of ten prototypes made of manually laminated, glass-fibre reinforced polyester. Verner Panton and Vitra developers worked persistently and steadfastly on the project, sacrificing their evenings and weekends.
Since its introduction to the market, it has advanced through several production phases. In 1967, a small pilot series of just 150 pieces was manufactured, using cold-pressed, glass-fibre reinforced polyester. It was the first all-plastic chair to be made in one single piece, with a cantilever design.
Technological advancements in plastics technology enabled Vitra and Verner Panton to develop a version of the Panton Chair in polypropylene at the end of the 1990s. Available since 1999, this version of the chair matches Panton’s original concept: it is produced from durable, dyed-through plastic with a lustrous matt finish. In fact, from its initial design to the latest iterations, the Panton Chair was a work in progress for more than 40 years.
The Panton Chair has received numerous international design awards and is represented in the collections of many prestigious museums all around the world, including Museum of Modern Art in New York. Due to its expressive form, it has become an icon of the 20th century. Its extraordinary comfort results from the combination of a cantilever structure with an anthropomorphic shape and a slightly flexible material. It can be used individually or in groups and is suited for both indoor and outdoor environments.
Verner Panton was one of the most influential figures in the development of design during the 1960s and ’70s. The Danish designer became known for his inventive, novel ideas for furnishings, lighting and textiles. The masterful use of colour was a hallmark of his work. Along with his experimental approach to forms and colours, he was captivated by the potential of plastic, a novel material at the time.
Furthermore, Verner Panton’s passion for bright colours and geometric patterns manifested itself in an extensive range of textile designs. By fusing the elements of a room – floor, walls, ceiling, furnishings, lighting, textiles and wall panels made of enamel or plastic – into a unified gesamtkunstwerk, Panton’s interior installations have attained legendary status. The most famous examples are the ‘Visiona’ ship installations for the Cologne Furniture Fair (1968 and 1970), the Spiegel publishing headquarters in Hamburg (1969) and the Varna restaurant in Aarhus.
Agile workplaces: top 5 benefits for your team
Flexible work environments are becoming increasingly popular in today’s business world, due to their numerous benefits. Designed to bring people and technology together in an efficient manner, these spaces – where traditional offices are replaced with practical open areas, shared desks and comfortable seating options – encourage creativity, innovation, communication and adaptability, and can also improve work performance.
The workspaces should be conducive to a pleasant atmosphere. After all, it has been proven that the environment has a significant impact on the mood, sense of well-being and motivation of employees. In other words, a positive work environment is usually a productive, happy and safe environment that prioritises cooperation, engagement and equity. Also, it can be an efficient solution for building a strong company culture that promotes high values and success.
As the world continues to evolve, the importance of designing dynamic spaces in all sectors can not be underestimated. First of all, an agile environment hosts different work modes and a wide range of possible activities. For example, with little effort or financial investment, an office can be transformed into a workshop space or a meeting room into a waiting area. This allows visitors or clients to wait in a comfortable and welcoming space while maintaining the professional atmosphere at the office. At the same time, dynamic spaces can be created in any context and are relevant for all sectors: offices and public spaces, educational or health facilities.
By creating a motivating and dynamic work environment, companies manage to improve the overall well-being and satisfaction of their employees. A workspace with a flexible design, comfortable furniture and a layout that promotes collaboration among team members, can enhance mood and increase organizational performance.
In fact, an agile workspace offers a lot of benefits, revolutionising the way people work, interact and collaborate. First of all, employees have the opportunity to work in a manner that suits their individual preferences. So, they can effortlessly find the best setup for their jobs.
Usually, when employees feel motivated, they are more likely to be focused on their tasks and collaborate effectively with their coworkers, resulting in higher efficiency and productivity, and an increased customer satisfaction.
With the ability to easily reconfigure the layout and furniture, companies can maximise their space utilization. In fact, an agile workspace reduces the need for individual offices or cubicles (which can be quite expensive to maintain). In this case, companies can save money by optimising their office spaces and only investing in what is absolutely necessary.
Furthermore, by incorporating flexible furniture and various layout options, an agile workspace can constantly adapt to a company’s changing needs. As the company grows, the workspace can be quickly transformed to accommodate new employees.
A strategy for a better engagement
An agile workspace provides different areas for both individual work and group collaboration. So, in this dynamic and flexible environment, employees can move around, anytime and anywhere, and work in different areas, choosing the most suitable configurations for their needs.
As a result, the engagement of employees will increase in an efficient manner. At the same time, an agile environment promotes a positive work culture that encourages a sense of ownership and autonomy among employees.
Effective team collaboration
In a flexible environment, teams can work together efficiently to achieve common goals. By providing all the necessary resources, an agile workspace facilitates real-time collaboration, creativity and communication.
With open areas and flexible spaces, employees are encouraged to interact constantly and share their ideas. Furthermore, a dynamic workspace provides resources for a better work-life balance, reducing stress and improving mental well-being.
As businesses evolve, so do their workspace requirements. Nowadays, companies must adapt quickly to changes and respond to new opportunities. In such situations, an agile workspace is a perfect solution, providing an excellent flexibility. It allows for easy reconfiguration of the workspace to accommodate changing team sizes, new project requirements, and work styles. The workspace will remain aligned with the needs of the business, fostering agility and responsiveness.
Micro-architectures for an agile workspace
As we have said before, work environments must be easily adaptable to changing situations. The simplest solution is an open space that can be configured to suit changing needs. Vitra’s answer was to develop the Comma office system.
“Unlike conventional furniture, Comma is an investment in a flexible office environment that can be continually redesigned. It is easy to create structures and reconfigure them in countless ways with just a basic kit of parts – from individual workstations to shelving, from telephone booths to team benches and workshop spaces.” – Christian Grosen, Chief Design Officer, Vitra
The office furniture system Comma is an expression of the dynamic spirit of a new generation of entrepreneurs, who wish to challenge the codes and rules of the 20th century and can not relate to the traditional office layout. Users can apply their full creativity time after time and redesign the office environment best suited to their current requirements, without the need for additional tools. Comma follows the function – and aesthetic – of scaffolding.
The “room in a room” is a concept that Vitra has intensively pursued over many years in collaboration with the designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. In 2006, the idea of mobile micro-architectural elements led to the development of the Alcove family, which has been continuously expanded with new models ever since.
Nearly one-and-a-half metres high, the side and back panels of the Alcove Highback Sofa are padded and covered with fabric to offer effective sound absorption, a casual appearance and inviting comfort. With these characteristics, Alcove was perfectly timed for contemporary offices concepts.
Alcove’s product features extend beyond the properties of a simple piece of furniture: with side and back panels in various heights, Alcove units form rooms within a room, creating ideal spaces for concentrated work or for small meetings.
The Soft Work office seating system embodies Vitra’s expertise from the home, office and public sectors. Instead of creating a working environment centred around desks with peripheral sofas, Soft Work has developed into a system in which table workstations are focused around a seating landscape.
“The workstation is going the same way as the dining room – it’s disappearing as an archetype. The desk has had its day. With mobile technology you need a place to sit occasionally, or a comfortable place to hang out. That’s our belief.” – Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, British designers
Soft Work offers a versatile platform for both individuals and teams. Besides ergonomic seating options, users also find practical table surfaces, power outlets and charging stations. Mobile tables and chairs can be pulled up as needed and put away again, and the addition of panels creates spaces for quiet, concentrated work. Thanks to its modular concept, Soft Work can be easily assembled into diverse arrangements, enabling architects to structure the internal spaces of a building, create specific focal points, or define flexible public areas.
With Workbays, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have developed a micro-architectural system that redefines the working environment and breaks with the typical rigid planning structure of offices. Yet Workbays not only provide office planners with a simple, multifunctional furniture system. They also offer employees the freedom to seek out the optimal environment for the task at hand.
Thus Workbays create distinct areas where individuals or groups can retreat from the general office environment to carry out specific activities. The units come equipped with everything users need: work surfaces, seating and optional storage and power connections. Workbays respond to the necessity for noise reduction, helping to absorb disruptive sounds in the surround- ing environment. They can spontaneously serve as telephone booths, video conference rooms, reading corners, quiet spots for a coffee break or meeting rooms – without sending participants behind closed doors.
The Originals: Eames Lounge Chair – longevity for generations
‘Why don’t we make an updated version of the old English club chair?’ An innocent question initiated the development of an iconic armchair that combines ultimate comfort with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship: the Eames Lounge Chair, one of the most popular furniture designs of the 20th century.
For Charles and Ray Eames, the main goal was to satisfy the desire for a generously proportioned chair that combined utmost comfort with the finest materials and craftsmanship. Furthermore, Charles and Ray Eames had a clear vision of how the seat should feel: warm and soft, like a ‘well-used baseball glove’.
So, this spectacular armchair designed in 1956 managed to set new standards: it’s not only lighter, more stylish and more modern than the traditional ponderous club chair, but it’s also more comfortable. Thanks to these important qualities, the Lounge Chair has attained the status of a great classic of midcentury furniture.
Vitra and Eames started to collaborate in the 1950s. Since then, Vitra has produced the Eames Lounge Chair using the same manufacturing methods and premium-quality materials. Nowadays, just as it did 67 years ago, production of this elegant armchair involves 47 different steps, many of which must be accomplished manually. The accurate execution assures the enduring quality that makes the Vitra Eames Lounge Chair last for generations.
Ever since it was first launched, the Lounge Chair has been manufactured in various configurations, which are now complemented by a white edition and a black edition, with corresponding details. Also, the classic version offers a wide choice of options: different types of wood for the shells, a selection of fabrics, leather grades and colours, and several surface finishes for the base.
Over the past 60 years, average human height has increased worldwide by nearly 10 cm. In close coordination with the Eames Office, Vitra developed the new larger version so that taller people, too, can enjoy the same exceptional comfort that Charles and Ray Eames intended with their original 1956 design.
Of course, there is almost no other upholstery material that can compete with high-quality leather, known for its longevity, warmth and comfort. In fact, Vitra is using different types of leather according to the product and area of application. Also, leather is a sustainable material and develops a natural patina over the years, lending a unique appearance to each piece of furniture. Furthermore, the tanning agent used for leather is extracted from the leaves of Mediterranean olive trees.
Charles and Ray Eames spent several years trying to find an innovative technique for producing three-dimensionally moulded plywood seat shells that conformed to the human body’s contours. Nowadays, complex industrial techniques are used to produce sheets of wood veneer, which are further processed manually. In most cases, wood from a single tree is utilised for a piece of furniture to ensure the uniform appearance of all surfaces. With only two exceptions, Vitra exclusively purchases veneers with a certificate of sustainability from European producers.
The Eames Lounge Chair is characterized by its durability, quality, timeless elegance and comfort. It’s like a treasure that you can pass on from generation to generation. The interplay of form, upholstery, colour and materials results in an armchair that is today a recognised icon of design history. Also, the Lounge Chair is ideally complemented by the matching Ottoman.
In 1958, one of the first Lounge Chairs in Scandinavia – if not the very first – arrived at Birgitte von Halling-Koch’s childhood home in Copenhagen, when she was 15 years old. Over the decades, the black leather of the chair has developed fine creases and veins, and the palisander shells have taken on a lighter shade – changes that are characteristic of natural materials and lend furnishings a patina that reveals their unique history. “It’s hard to resist falling asleep in it – after 60 years it is still so incredibly comfortable. I can not count how many times my parents, my children, my grandchildren and I have nodded off into the land of dreams in that chair. It is a dear treasure of ours, full of so many memories. The quality over the years has been amazing”, said Birgitte von Halling-Koch, actress.
Charles and Ray Eames are counted among the most important figures of twentieth-century design. Their work spans the fields of furniture design, filmmaking, photography and exhibition design. Also, furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames has been a cornerstone of the Vitra Design Museum collection since its inception.
Vitra is the sole authorised manufacturer of Eames products for Europe and the Middle East. When you own an Eames product made by Vitra, you know it is an original.
Project1 Showcases Jean Prouvé’s Work at Romanian Design Week 2023
Romanian Design Week is an annual event that enhances design, architecture, creativity, and innovation as catalysts for cultural, social, and economic development. Romanian Design Week aims to foster a vibrant design community, encourage collaboration and exchange, and stimulate the growth of the design industry in Romania. It provides a space to explore new concepts, engage in discussions, and experience the power of design in shaping culture, society, and the economy.
For the 2023 edition, Project1 collaborated with Vitra and Intro Design to present an exhibition dedicated to the remarkable work of Jean Prouvé. The “Prouvé Roadshow” exhibition captivated architects, designers, and aesthetics enthusiasts, creating an engaging experience for all RDW attendees.
The centerpiece of the exhibition was the “Prouvé Roadshow” installation,” which presented a curated selection of Jean Prouvé’s designs. Visitors were able to explore his architectural masterpieces and visionary creations, experiencing firsthand the transformative power of Prouvé’s designs.
Stine Liv Buur, Designer Manager Classics at Vitra, traveled to Romania to share her knowledge and insights during RDW 2023. Her presentation shed light on Jean Prouvé’s life, creative philosophy, and Vitra’s collaboration with Prouvé’s family. By highlighting their shared commitment to preserving his legacy and pushing boundaries in design, Stine enriched the exhibition experience, inspiring architects to embrace Prouvé’s spirit of innovation.
Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) was a French designer and architect known for his significant contributions to 20th-century industrial design and construction techniques. He was recognized for his innovative use of materials, particularly in creating lightweight and durable furniture, prefabricated houses, and architectural structures. Prouvé’s designs often emphasized functionality, simplicity, and structural integrity. His work encompassed a wide range of disciplines, including furniture design, architecture, metalwork, and urban planning. Prouvé’s designs continue to inspire and influence contemporary designers and architects, reflecting his enduring impact on the field of design.
Vitra recognized the timeless appeal and innovative qualities of Prouvé’s work and sought to preserve and promote his designs. The collaboration involved reissuing Prouvé’s classic furniture pieces, faithfully reproducing them with high-quality materials and craftsmanship. By partnering with Vitra, Prouvé’s designs gained wider visibility and accessibility, allowing design enthusiasts and collectors to appreciate and incorporate his iconic pieces into their spaces. The collaboration between Jean Prouvé and Vitra has helped to preserve Prouvé’s design legacy and ensure that his influential designs continue to be celebrated and enjoyed by generations to come.
Throughout their participation in Romanian Design Week 2023 and the memorable “Prouvé Roadshow” exhibition, we experienced the delightful surprise of discovering the deep admiration and love that the Romanian architect community holds for Jean Prouvé.
#TheOriginals: Standard Chair – when structure determines design
When a Vitra furniture piece arrives in a home, an office or a public space, it brings not only functionality or beauty, but a long story of innovation and creativity. A story of the designer who, in collaboration with Vitra, starts a seemingly endless development process, filled with trials and errors. A story of a manufacturing attitude where the details are not only details, but a gamechanger in terms of quality. A story that grows more and more beautiful with every space that hosts a Vitra Original, offering its empty canvas as another page.
The French designer, architect and engineer Jean Prouvé created the Standard Chair in 1934. This design essentially exemplifies a fundamental aspect of Prouvé’s numerous furniture designs and architectural works: his unwavering focus on structural requirements.
Prouve’s main achievement was transferring manufacturing technology to architecure – he was both designer and manufacturer of his product ideas. He was born in Nancy, France, and his parents were both artists – Victor Prouve (painter and sculptor) and Marie Duhamel (pianist). Being raised in an artistic circle, Jean grew up surrounded by art. He graduated from Fine Arts School in Nancy and then he worked in a parisian metal workshop before opening his own workshop in 1924.
In the following years he created numerous furniture designs, and in 1947 he estabilished his own factory. Unfortunately, as a result of some conflicts with the shareholders, Prouve left the company in 1953. In the next decades, he worked as a consulting engineer on an number of important architectural projects in Paris. His eventful career path is the reason why all his creations embody a wide range of ideas, technologies and means of inspiration.
Prouvé’s work encompasses many unique objects in all areas of life, from a letter opener to door and window fittings, from lighting and furniture to façade elements and prefabricated houses, from modular building systems to large exhibition structures – essentially, almost anything that is suited to industrial production methods.
The Standard chair has evolved into one of the most famous classics of the French ‘constructeur’. The seat and backrest of this understated, iconic chair are available in various types of wood, and the metal frame comes in different colours. Most models had a metal frame and legs, with a seat and backrest made of wood. Other variations were made completely of metal or – especially during wartime and the related metal shortages – entirely of wood. Some had cushions in various materials, or demountable components for ease of transport; the last models with back legs made of aluminium followed in the 1950s.
The load on the back legs of a chair, where it supports the weight of the sitter’s upper body, is greater than on the front legs. This is hardly a surprising discovery, but no other seating design demonstrates this principle as clearly as the Standard Chair: while tubular steel suffices for the front legs, which bear a relatively light load, the back legs are made of voluminous hollow sections that transfer the primary stress to the floor. The profile of the back legs, formed from thin bent sheet steel, resembles an aircraft wing, with the widest measurement at the point where the leg meets the seat frame – that is, where the stress is greatest. The tapered shape of the hollow section from the seat surface upwards simultaneously defines the angle and position of the backrest.
The 1934 model was introduced as Chair No. 4, since it had been preceded by three prototypes; further versions continued to be developed under the name ‘Standard’. Up until the early 2000s, the work of Jean Prouvé was known outside of France to just a small circle of architects and collectors. Although re-editions of his furniture existed, his designs did not find the attention and distribution they deserve.
The colours Prouvé developed for his furniture drew on various references – from his Blé Vert, which describes the colour of young green wheat, to Gris Vermeer, which alludes to the grey tones in the work of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Yet according to Prouvé, who believed in the ‘nature of a material’, only parts in danger of corroding should be painted, which is why he left wooden and aluminium elements in an untreated state whenever possible. However, beyond the practical benefit of rust protection, Prouvé was aware that he could use colours to instil his furniture designs with a certain aura.
After more than twenty years, Vitra completed the collection with new colors and Standard Chair is now available also in colors like Gris Vermeer, Bleu Dynastie, Ble Vert and Bleu Marcoule. You cand also find the Metal Brut variant, in unpainted steel.
Why does a company like Vitra, who is committed to contemporary design, also continues to produce furniture that was created decades ago? Because some designs from the past remain unsurpassed and have lost none of their vitality or relevance. Notable examples include the work of Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer – and likewise Jean Prouvé.
The term “original” has nothing to do with the production date. The status of an original is determined by the relationship between the designer (or rightful heirs) and the manufacturer of the designer’s products. There is not only a legal component to this relationship, but also an immaterial one based on shared ideals and mutual cooperation.
For any product to be designated as an “original“, the originator of the design must have given the manufacturer the legal authorisation to produce it. Anyone who produces a design without legal permission is appropriating property that belongs to someone else. This applies not only to the manufacturer, but also to the consumer who buys an unlicensed product.
Invest in an original, for it will always retain its worth. An imitation will never be anything but a copy, a stolen idea. Appreciate the differences – not just the quality and more obvious variances but also the sensory and emotional appeal of the authentic product. An original is a lifelong companion and may well outlive you to be gratefully received by the next generation.
Iconic female designers: Hella Jongerius
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are bringing in the spotlight Hella Jongerius – one of the most appreciated female contemporany designers. As one of the contemporary designers in the Vitra gallery, Hella brings a playful vision to the universe of the brand. Her passion for colors is easy to see in all the products she creates.
Hella was born in 1963 in a small urbanized village in the province of Utrecht, Netherlands. She founded Jongeriuslab – her own studio, in Rotterdam, after graduating the Design Academy Eindhoven. Over the years, Hella created for major clients like Maharam (New York), KLM (Netherlands), Ikea (Sweden), Camper (Spain) and, of course, Vitra (Switzerland).
For Vitra, the Dutch designer has developed distinctive pieces such as the Polder Sofa and the East River Chair. Jongerius has consistently addressed the significance of colours and surfaces in contemporary design in her work with textiles, ceramics and furniture. She has been the Art Director for colours and materials at Vitra for many years and developed the Vitra Colour & Material Library – a system that enables the versatile combination of different materials and colours throughout the extensive Vitra product collection. Hella Jongerius has also written a book about this complex task entitled «I Don’t Have a Favorite Colour».
Works by Hella Jongerius have been shown at museums and galleries such as Design Museum (London), Galerie kreo (Paris) and the Moss Gallery (New York). ‘Breathing Colour’ is the title of one of the Hella Jongerius latest exhibitions. It is an investigation of the Dutch designer’s theories and concepts about colour, illustrating such phenomena as the relationship between colour and light over the course of a day.
In a recent interview for Vitra Magazine, Hella Jongerius shares some of her thoughts on the project.
„Colour touches so many different aspects of design: words, shapes, materials, physics, space, light. The experience of colour is completely dependent on its physical, visual, artistic and cultural context. What is the relationship between form and colour? When does a colour lift up a shape and give it a new dimension? What is the role of shadow? (…) With this exhibition, I want to make a plea for colours that breathe. I still have the impression of being an absolute novice when it comes to colour. Even though I have already learned a great deal, I still can’t really get my head around the subject. Colour is one of those truly wonderful topics that will always keep you feeling like a beginner. It is this quality that makes colour so worthwhile – just like life itself.”
Love is in the… details
In the world of Vitra, love is one of the strongest sources of inspiration – Alexander Girard and Verner Panton are two of the Vitra designers who used symbols of love in their creations.
The heart shape is recognized all over the world as the main symbol for romantic love. One theory says that the heart shape comes from the leaves of a plant called siphium, which was considered a key component for a love potion used by the romans. The heart shape is also associated with St. Valentine, the saint who continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret, despite the Emperor Claudius II order, with the price of his own life.
Alexander Girard, known for textile design, but also admired for his work in the areas of furniture design, graphics and interior architecture, used the heart shape as a recurring pattern. Being one of the most frequent symbols in his work, the heart is used on textiles, cushion covers, as a decorative wall element and also as a print on mugs and trays. Alexander Girard’s International Love Heart is a quintessential representation of who he was, both as a designer and as a person.
Originally created in 1961 for the Textiles & Objects shop in New York City, this design speaks to Girard’s passion for typography, graphics, language – and above all, the universal sentiment of love. It strikes a balance of being clean, bold and concise, and at the same time soft, romantic and winsome. Girard constantly wove messages of peace, love and understanding into his work without ever succumbing to kitsch or sentimentality, and the International Love Heart is a perfect example. Comprising the word ‘love’ in many languages, including romanian, this unique heart-shaped design also bears witness to Girard’s lifelong fascination with global dialects.
The motif was part of a larger range of designs that Alexander Girard created for printed pillows made of cotton and linen. The International Love Heart was later displayed in the form of a wooden wall decoration in The Compound restaurant, which Girard designed in 1966. Along with the interior of his private home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Compound restaurant was one of just a few local works. Unlike most of Girard’s richly ornamented and sumptuously coloured collages of patterns and objects, the detailing and furnishings in The Compound are characterised by a simpler, more rural charm. With its calligraphic lettering painted in black on a plain white background, this decorative wall object contributes to a lovely, warm atmosphere for the guests who dine there.
In 1967, Alexander Girard further developed the idea of the International Love Heart in his design of a textile that used the same distinctive letters, repeating them in a never-ending love pattern. Other examples of heart motifs by Alexander Girard are his famous Love Heart and a vast variety of double hearts, often referred to as ‘Sansusi’ – the combined nicknames of Girard (Sandro) and his wife Susan.
Another designer inspired by love symbol – the heart, is Vernon Panton. Verner created numerous designs for seating furniture and lighting and is known for his passion for bright colours and geometric patterns. Panton’s collaboration with Vitra began in the early 1960s, when they jointly developed what became his best-known design, the Panton Chair, which was introduced in 1967. This was also the first independently developed product by Vitra. But another iconic chair created by Verner Panton in 1958 is the Heart Cone Chair. This one takes its name from the expressive, heart-shape silhouette of its seat shell. The chair combines a comfortably upholstered seat with an understated elegant base made of satin stainless steel.
Vitra’s re-edition of designs by Panton, as well as the retrospective of his work mounted by the Vitra Design Museum in 2000, bear witness to the special relationship between Vitra and Verner Panton.
Love is the energy that makes the world spin around. Find love in everything that surrounds you – Happy Valentine’s day!
Christmas magic, a source of inspiration
Christmas and winter holidays have always been inspiring for designers and for artists, in general. The cozy atmosphere, the bright decorations, the joy of giving and the symbolism of Christmas carols are some of the elements that invite creativity. The Vitra universe is, through the unique visions of some of the designers, a gateway to the magic of Christmas.
Alexander Girard, one of the leading figures in American design during the post-war era, created a series of images which fit perfectly into the festive atmosphere. Vitra, in cooperation with Girard’s family, selected those images to create bright decorative pendants manufactured from golden metal, which can be used to decorate the tree and also some areas in the house. The Girard Ornaments with Heart, Dove, Angel, Star or Moon motifs can be great Christmas tree decorations, but you can also offer them as a gift for the loved ones.
Girard grew up in Florence, Italy, and his childhood was marked by church ceremonies such as the nativity scenes, but he was mostly inspired by the Christmas tradition of bringing people together to celebrate life and creation. The winter holidays held a special place in his heart – a reason why the designer’s creations evoke elements specific to Christmas.
His grandchildren remember the joy and enthusiasm that their grandfather had when it came to Christmas presents. Alexander Girard manufactured the gifts for the loved ones himself, instead of buying them. Wooden cabinets, engraved bangles, paintings and all kind of boxes (made from different materials like stone, wood, brass) – these are just a few examplaes of objects made by Girard for his wife, kids and grandchildren. He would also hand-drawn cards for every member of his family. Wrapping Christmas presents was also important to Alexander.
„For us as grandchildren, Christmas Eve was the most magical time. Stacks of boxes robed in sheets of white tissue, each one bound with a different, vibrantly coloured ribbon. Tiny paper cards with the familiar round handwriting indicating which package was meant for each of us. Seeing these gifts gathered round the base of the tree and the anticipation of what might be inside almost outweighed the excitement about the actual gift within.” – Aleishall Girard, granddaughter of Alexander Girard
Charles and Ray Eames, the iconic couple that shaped the values and voice of Vitra, moved in the Eames House on Christmas Eve. The Eames House was built in 1949 by the couple in order to serve both as their home and a studio, during a Case Study House program conceived by the magazine Arts & Architecture, which challenged architects to design progressive, but modest houses. The two spent the first hours in what would become their forever home, hanging decorations from the living room ceiling and decorating the Christmas tree.
Over the years, the Eames House was constanly enriched with new decorative elements and also with their own furniture designs. The house became a playground for the couple, who was convinced that it is important to experiment in order to learn and grow. But of all the periods of the year, the house always looked best at Christmas. Charles and Ray Eames imagination had no limits when it came to Christmas. One year, the couple made a Christmas tree from upended plywood chair legs, decorated with lit holiday candles.
Just like Alexander Girard, Charles Eames also loved to send Christmas cards made by him, with various illustrations and wishes for loved ones. With a few markers and a sheet of paper, Charles would make true works of art to be gifted during the holidays. Churches, animals, houses and landscapes – all these elements inspired him in the process of creating the hand-drawn cards.
In the Vitra Universe, Christmas is all about family, quality time spent with loved ones, and creating lifelong memories, but it is also about the beauty that surrounds us, the joy brought by art and handmade gifts with a strong personal touch.
Merry Christmas from our Project1 family, to yours!
Sustainability at Vitra | A discussion with Christian Grosen Ramussen, Chief Design Officer
As the entire world moves towards a production and consumption behavior that shows as much respect for resources and the planet as possible, sustainability is a topic that has gained importance and makes us wonder to what extent we can be part of change.
Vitra is one of the European brands that have innovated since their inception, with an undeniable emphasis on the quality of design and its role in making people’s lives better, in all respects. We spoke with Christian Grosen Ramussen, Chief Design Officer at Vitra, about how sustainability is viewed today in the brand’s design and production strategy.
Q: Sustainability is not a new concept in Vitra’s philosophy. But how do you see, from within the company, the attention paid by customers today to sustainability, compared to 5 years ago?
Christian Grosen, Vitra: The attention paid to sustainability is becoming more and more important and we strive to inform our customers in the best possible way about our products so that they can make informed choices.
At Vitra, we are proud to say that 97% of our products are manufactured in Europe and we are putting great care and attention in ensuring that the majority of our materials is sourced as close as possible to our manufacturing facilities. We have developed long-lasting partnerships with our suppliers, many of which have worked with us for decades. Sustainability at Vitra is not a project, but a corporate attitude that finds expression in every aspect of Vitra’s work.
Q: Tip Ton is probably the star product of Vitra from the perspective of sustainability, especially due to the new Tip Ton RE model. What other products should we turn our attention to in light of the sustainable way in which they are designed and produced?
Christian Grosen, Vitra: All our products can be considered sustainable in the sense that they are all conceived with longevity in mind. They are not part of the throwaway culture and are made to last for generations.
Tip Ton RE was the first chair we launched manufactured from upcycled household waste, and it has already been followed by a series of products manufactured from recycled plastics such as: Toolbox RE, Uten.Silo RE and many others will follow in the next years.
Q: All Vitra products are based on the belief that a furniture product must be able to ensure the longest possible use. But how is this inclination towards the quality built to last, combined with the speed in which the market evolves from month to month? Do people still choose products to use for decades or do they prefer to change their furniture frequently as new technologies and materials emerge?
Christian Grosen, Vitra: We have observed a rise in the demand for home products throughout the Corona pandemic, as people had to spend so much more time at home, they started noticing how important the quality of materials and aesthetic was. We believe that the pandemic has made many of our customers more aware of the importance of longevity, quality or materials and craftsmanship.
Q: To what extent does Vitra aim to facilitate the recycling and disposal of used products worldwide? Are concepts like ‘Vitra Circle’ or ‘Yellow bag’ feasible for Vitra customers around the world?
Christian Grosen, Vitra: We are continuously looking for the best options to make our products as durable as possible, so that they only have to be recycled after 30 or even 50 years of use, or can be repaired and passed on from one generation to the next. That said, we are factoring recyclability in all our products by ensuring that they can be easily separated into different parts at the end of their lifecycle.
We also offer take-back programmes for some of our products, which cannot be recycled in the traditional recycling yard such as the Eames Fiberglass Chair. We have three Circle Stores so far, near Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Brussels and plan on opening more in the future. The Circle Stores contribute to the circular economy by selling used items from exhibitions, trade fairs and showroom presentations, thus bringing them back into circulation, giving the products a second life. They also offer repair stations, where used products can be brought back and repaired by specialists.
Q: We know that at Vitra nothing is rushed, and this also applies to the development of sustainable products. What are the main aspects that the company has in mind when it aims to launch new products? Is sustainability always taken into account?
Christian Grosen, Vitra: Sustainability always plays a central role with the development of our products. Our goal is to develop products, which are durable, and ecologically sound and that embrace the principles of a circular economy.
One recent example of this approach is our new office system Comma. It is a very robust system with a long service life, which is further extended by its reconfigurability. It can be easily dismantled into individual parts that are easy to separate and recycle. The felt panels are made from upcycled single-use plastic, which is cradle-to-cradle certified.
Beyond this example, we are working hard on making our products even-more durable, by replacing certain materials for more sustainable options or by ensuring the product can be easily dismantled and its part recycled at the end of its life. A good example here is the ID Cloud task chair, some configurations of which are 100% recyclable.
Project1 Headquarters in Bucharest: the Story
At the core of everything we do is our belief that we build homes for the companies we work with. We are proud to create spaces that translate a brand culture into an environment ready to host teams of high-performance professionals.
So when it came to building our own home, we couldn’t come up short.
The Project1 headquarters in Bucharest is designed to intertwine the functionality of an office with the look and feel of a showroom. As Vitra represents one of our main sources of inspiration, we became the largest dealer showroom in Eastern Europe, an embodiment of everything Vitra stands for: tradition, quality, innovation. Iconic and recently-released Vitra designs are combined seamlessly with amazing pieces created by a carefully curated handful of other brands we are proud to call our partners: Occhio for lighting accessories, ShawContract and Dinesen for incredible flooring solutions, Walter Knoll for furniture and accessories, and more.
Different areas tell different stories as they have been created with certain objectives in mind: individual focused work, teamwork and collaboration, networking and leisure time, meeting rooms. This setup helps us showcase many of our solutions in a way that allows visitors to better envision their own space.
There is no room for compromise in our universe.
Placed in one of the iconic office buildings in Bucharest, in very beautiful surroundings, the Project1 headquarters is a hive that bursts with creativity, trustworthy experience and the enthusiasm of a growing team, all in search of excellence. As one of our values states, the Project1 team members are The Best People, a vibe you immediately catch upon entering our space. We selected the best, both in terms of people and products that inspire us. There is no room for compromise in our universe.
Our showroom is an open invitation to the world of excellence. An office-museum, which invites you to sit down, to touch, to admire, to listen to stories.
The Original is by Vitra: an exclusive interview with Stine Liv Buur, Design Manager Classics
Vitra is one of the few brands in the world that looks at things differently. For Vitra, the pieces of furniture that see the light of day are the result of a fruitful collaboration with the designers who become close friends of the brand.
Each collaboration varies due to the personal world view and creative skills of the designer. The collaborations have developed over many years, for some several decades, for others several generations. Every concept launched by Vitra has such a strong history behind it that it unfolds its story for decades – starting as an idea, developing as a product, and becoming over time an iconic object, an original.
We wanted to find out more about the philosophy behind this concept, which Vitra is so proud of: The Original. Stine Liv Buur, the architect who holds the position of Design Manager Classics at Vitra, revealed to us the extent to which this approach is in fact a promise of loyalty and trust between the brand and the designer.
A product can only be called an original when it has been authorised by the designer.
What does “The Original is by Vitra” stand for? Which Vitra models are considered The originals and why?
Stine: All designs produced by Vitra are originals, and here is why: A product can only be called an original when it has been authorised by the designer. In terms of its status as an original, it does not matter whether an authorised product was produced in large quantities or in a limited series, or if it was manufactured many years ago or only recently.
Originals by Vitra are developed, manufactured and communicated in close collaboration with the designer or his or her legitimate heirs to ensure that the product is fabricated in accordance with the specific ideas and wishes of its author and is thus authentic. As a result, an Eames Lounge Chair from 1956 and a Lounge Chair produced today are both originals.
The author behind the design – what role does he play in shaping the story of the piece of furniture?
Stine: The author plays a great role. Each design in the Vitra portfolio represents a part of the designer’s DNA, his or her way of thinking design solutions. At Vitra we believe that the world still can learn a lot from the classics. They are not only a great part of the Vitra history and identity, the classics are also a kind of guides for the Vitra contemporary designers.
What would be the three most important values that you think have guided Vitra from day one, being just as strong in the brand culture even today?
Stine: High Quality, Innovation and Sustainability are three important values that have been with Vitra and its authors from the very beginning. A design that lasts in quality, in its use and beauty, proofs to last for generations. Sustainability depends on a responsible manufacturing, naturally, and also highly depends on the product longevity, the fact that it can be passed to the next generation or re-sold at an auction house.
The power of the original – how much does the emotion weigh in relation to an original product, in which you invest precisely because you understand its value?
Stine: Emotion weighs a lot. The best way to recognize the weight of emotion, which I here would translate to cultural understanding, is to visit the archive at the Vitra Design Museum which is one of the greatest chair collections in the world. Among others, here are the world’s largest Eames collection, and the most complete Jean Prouvé collection.
The Vitra Design Museum chair collection, which can be seen at the Vitra Schaudepot, is not only open for Vitra Campus visitors, but is actively being used for any development concerning the Vitra classics. At Vitra we always ask ourselves: What would Charles (Eames) say? What would Jean Prouvé say? And due to our cultural understanding, and the close cooperation with their legitimate heirs, we mostly know the answers.
Where do you think classic and original pieces find their place in today’s world, which increasingly capitalizes on the sustainability, recycling and reuse of old objects?
Stine: I believe they are more relevant than ever. Sustainability has always been a part of Vitra’s industrial culture. The Vitra classics have already proven their value for decades. At Vitra the manufacturing of sustainable products means the use of high-quality materials that are being tested to simulate 15 years of use, but finally proves to last much longer. For the Eames Aluminium Group, for example, this means that Vitra is able to offer a 30-year guarantee.
It is also important that individual components are easily replaced and recycled. Recently Vitra has initiated a customized take-back program that gives corporate clients to deliver back old products and Vitra makes sure they are being reused or recycled properly.
The future of Work | Webcast by Raphael Gielgen, Trendscout at Vitra
Vitra is one of the world’s most powerful companies in terms of design innovation.
Today it produces some of the most iconic pieces of furniture and has always supported the evolution in terms of manufacturing processes, materials, colors, shapes. Their approach is based on efforts to always keep up to date with changes in the market, in people’s lifestyles, in their needs.
As Charles Eames once said, “Design addresses itself to the need”.
Raphael Gielgen visits more than 100 companies a year. He is the Trendscout for Vitra, the person who studies what happens in the field, where Vitra products will find their utility. Whilst traveling around the Globe, the whole world is his laboratory and the future his research area. We might say that he has the power to predict the future, by reading the present in a way that few people can.
He is the one who always asks questions, who tries to find the substance, who never ceases to look for more. His curiosity, restless search for explanation and his desire to explore, reflect and redefine everything may sometimes be challenging his colleagues. But when he arrives in the office after a long journey, he tells you stories that may sound more like a utopian vision to you, rather than real experiences of existing places.
Raphael is one of the engines that always pushes Vitra towards evolution, and he often shares his wisdom and amazing ideas with the public, as he recently did in a special Webcast hosted by Vitra, on the theme of “The future of work in uncertain times.”
Below you will find the recording of this Webcast, extremely useful for all those who are wondering what the spaces will look like in the near future. What will be the new rules and layouts for the offices we share? How will how and where we meet change? How will we balance personal safety, in terms of health, with environmental safety, in terms of sustainability? Find all these answers and more in the by watching Raphael’s presentation.
Health & Safety at Project1: building a stronger team
Think safe. Work safe. Home safe
A mantra that has become one of the values encompassing Project1’s vision of maintaining the highest possible standards in all areas, from service delivery to caring for people. Our organizational culture, which places great emphasis on Health & Safety, is acquired by all team members in all the functional and execution areas within the company. We support our team by maintaining a healthy and safe work environment in which they feel valued.
Our actions are focused on informing and training the team, along with encouraging empathetic and altruistic behavior, starting from the management team who lead by example. We care about people, not only because they are the essence of our company, but because we operate in an industry that is focused on the comfort and welfare of people – at work and beyond.
In this light, we carry out regular training and informative workshops on topics of interest such as physical and mental health, optimal protection during working hours, reducing the risk of injury and effective communication with others.
The entire Project1 team have attended a first aid course, with the support of specialists from Regina Maria, in order to acquire the essential notions regarding saving lives in extreme situations. It is a process that will be repeated periodically, as the team grows, to ensure that all our employees can take care of each other and can react quickly and appropriately.
To ensure the effective application of the prevention measures established in the regulations and procedures, which minimize the risks and ensure our activity proceeds under safe conditions, Project1 has organized OSH inspector courses for colleagues who work in the field, on construction sites and in warehouses.
All courses are conducted with the support of accredited trainers and our team members receive official certifications.
We make sure that at the end of every working day all members of the Project1 team get home safely to their families.
It is a relationship of mutual respect and trust that helps us to have a stronger, better team every day.
You can read more about our point of view on the matter in our Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Policy.
Project1 is here. Built to suit Timisoara.
As we approach the end of our first year, the first official headquarters of Project1 opens in Timisoara. It is a space that reflects our values and vision, the creativity and the experience of the team behind the wonderful projects we carry out.
We thank our partners, as well as the collaborators and clients who joined us at the opening event.