Dive into the history of design at the new Vitra Schaudepot

The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein has opened its archives, and hundreds of significant pieces of design history can now be seen in the new Vitra Schaudepot, architected by Herzog and de Meuron…

Comprising approximately 7,000 pieces of furniture, over 1,000 lights and numerous other extensive archives, the Vitra Design Museum boasts one of the largest and most important collections of modern furniture in the world. While many of the objects were originally stored in 1989 in the Frank Gehry-designed museum on the Vitra Campus, they remained hidden from the public until today. The Vitra Schaudepot was designed by the famous Basel architects Herzon and de Meuron, and sits on the fringes of the production halls. Now officially open, it houses a permanent exhibition of more than 400 key pieces of modern furniture design. The spectrum ranges from 1800 to the present, and features everything from early bentwood chairs and icons of classical modernism by Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto, to plastic furniture of the Pop Art era and prototypes fresh from the 3D printer. In addition to the Vitra classics from Eames, Panton and Prouvé, there are many other lesser-known oddities to discover. 

It’s worth a visit to Weil am Rhein for the fascinating Vitra Schaudepot building itself. The simple building with its windowless façade of broken bricks looks, at first glance, like an industrial warehouse. “The Shaudepot is the humblest building on the Vitra Campus,” explains Jacques Herzog at the official opening, “but it puts our most impressive buildings even more in the spotlight, and emphasises the overall composition of the Campus.” In stark contrast with the exterior of the building, the inside is completely transparent. The exhibited furniture is displayed on open shelves, which enhances the vast space. Downstairs in the basement, there is even more insight into the collections, and from the adjoining café you can observe the museum staff in their offices and the restorers in their workshops. 

As well as the important pieces from the collection, the history of which you can read about further in the new digital catalogue, there will also be temporary exhibitions in the Vitra Schaudepot. Currently showing is ‘Radical Design’, showcasing innovative Italian designs from the 1960s. And in the autumn, the legendary Braun designer Dieter Rams will be honoured. 

You can find more information about the Vitra Design Museum and the new Vitra Schaudepot here