The Vitra Design Museum would be unthinkable without its extensive collection of design objects. They form the basis of many exhibitions, publications and research projects. The focus of the collection lies on industrial furniture design and lighting – in these areas, the unique holdings of the museum are of international importance. They are supplemented by smaller groups of objects, including cutlery, consumer electronics and architectural models. The estates of prominent designers such as Charles & Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, Anton Lorenz, George Nelson and Verner Panton are also maintained by the Vitra Design Museum. The expert preservation of the collection is ensured by the museum’s own conservation workshop. An extensive document archive and a library complement the collection, which is constantly expanding. The Vitra Design Museum regularly provides loans to other museums and galleries, including renowned partners as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
- The publication “100 Masterpieces from the Vitra Design Museum Collection” and a poster with 225 objects of the collection is available in our online shop.
The furniture collection of the Vitra Design Museum encompasses the major eras, themes and protagonists of industrial furniture design. The core holdings comprise approximately 6000 objects, with an emphasis on the following areas:
- The beginnings of modern design in the 19th century (e.g. bentwood furniture, Vienna Secession, American patent furniture, German Werkbund)
- Classic modernism (Bauhaus, De Stijl and others)
- Post war design (e.g. design from Scandinavia and Italy, American designers like Eames, Nelson, Girard and more)
- Tendencies of the 1960s and 1970s (Radical Design, experimental plastic objects, modular furniture, new office concepts)
- Postmodern tendencies (Memphis, Droog Design and others)
- Contemporary design (Critical Design, New Crafts, Computer Aided Design, DIY, Sustainable Design)
The collection of lighting in the Vitra Design Museum consists of approximately 1000 objects. It includes many classics of the 20th century, such as the legendary lamp “WG24“ by Wilhelm Wagenfeld (1924) or Richard Sapper’s “Tizio“ lamp (1972), but also rare pieces, prototypes and one-offs. The lighting collection documents the combination of technological innovation with design aesthetics and demonstrates the fascination that many designers have for the psychological and philosophical aspects of light.
For its exhibitions over the past decades, Vitra Design Museum has grown a significant collection of architectural models which have been built in the museum’s own model making workshops. It comprises models of works by architects like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and others. The collection of electronics includes works by Dieter Rams for Braun and other significant design objects of the 20th century. Another special collection is dedicated to cutlery.