Collection

Collection


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.

Collection Online

Vitra Design Museum, Collection space, © photo: Vitra Design Museum, photographer: Andreas Sütterlin

Collection Online

Collection Online


The Online Collection includes detailed information about selected objects from the collection and will be expanded continuously in the coming years. Here you won’t just find extensive details about each object, but also explanatory text and image materials, biographies of the most important designers as well as texts on the history of significant furniture manufacturers. Collection Online

Schaudepot, exhibition view of main hall, photo © Vitra Design Museum, Mark Niedermann
View of the Schaudepot Lab and window to the lamp collection, photo © Vitra Design Museum, Mark Niedermann

The Schaudepot

The Vitra Design Museum opened Schaudepot


On 3 June 2016 a new building was opened on the Vitra Campus: the Vitra Schaudepot, designed by the Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron. The Schaudepot provides the Vitra Design Museum with a venue for presenting key objects from its extensive collection to the public, complemented by a new café and a shop. In this context, a second entry point to will be created to the Vitra Campus, enhancing its connections to the cities of Basel and Weil am Rhein.

The collection of the Vitra Design Museum ranks among the most important holdings of furniture design worldwide. It contains some 7000 pieces of furniture, more than thousand lighting objects and numerous archives, as well as the estates of such designers as Charles & Ray Eames, Verner Panton and Alexander Girard. Although the main museum building by Frank Gehry from 1989 was originally conceived to house the collection, the museum utilises the space to stage major temporary exhibitions. To date, the museum’s collection has never been on permanent display.

The Basel-based architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron has now created a new structure for the museum in which the collection will be exhibited and communicated to the public. The centrepiece of the Schaudepot is a permanent exhibition of more than 400 key pieces of modern furniture design from 1800 to the present. The objects shown include early bentwood furniture, icons of Classical Modernism by Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto and Gerrit Rietveld, along with colourful plastic objects from the Pop era and recent designs produced with a 3D printer.

This presentation will be complemented by smaller temporary exhibitions on themes related to the collection, beginning with a look at the »Radical Design« movement of the 1960s. On the lower ground level, the Schaudepot offers insights into additional focal points of the collection, such as Scandinavian and Italian design, the lighting collection and the estate of Charles and Ray Eames.

With the opening of the Schaudepot, the Vitra Design Museum is greatly expanding its exhibition space and its programme. The museum building by Frank Gehry will continue to be used for the large-scale temporary exhibitions and the Vitra Design Museum Gallery will show smaller, experimental projects, while the Schaudepot will display the permanent exhibition as well as one temporary exhibition. All of the museum’s exhibition venues are open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. The exhibitions are complemented by a diverse programme of guided tours, discussions, workshops and other events. Once in operation, the Schaudepot will be one of the world’s largest permanent exhibitions and research facilities on modern furniture design.

Schaudepot Exhibitions
> The Vitra Design Museum Collection – 1800 to the Present, Permanent Exhibition
> Monobloc – A Chair for the World, 17.03. – 09.07.2017
> Schaudepot Lab. Prototypes, Materials and Processes

Schaudepot Guided Tours
> Highlights from the Collection
> Behind the Scenes

Exterior view Schaudepot, located at the Vitra Campus adjacent to the Firestation by Zaha Hadid, photo © Vitra Design Museum, Julien Lanoo
Exhibition view of main hall, photo © Vitra Design Museum, Mark Niedermann

Furniture

Furniture


The furniture collection of the Vitra Design Museum encompasses the major eras, themes and protagonists of industrial furniture design. The core holdings comprise approximately 7000 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)
  •  Biographies of their designers.
  • Collection online

    For image enquiries, please contact pictures(at)design-museum.de
Michael Thonet, Nr. 14/Consumsessel, ca. 1855 – 1859, © VG Bild-Kunst, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MBG-1001_3), photographer: Jürgen Hans/objektfotograf.ch
G. Ceretti, P. Derossi, R. Rosso, Pratone, 1966, © Gufram, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MIT-1060), photographer: Jürgen Hans/objektfotograf.ch
Gerrit T. Rietveld, Roodblauwe stoel, 1918, © VG Bild-Kunst, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MRI-1001), photographer: Jürgen Hans/objektfotograf.ch
Ron Arad, Little Heavy, 1989, © Ron Arad, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MGB-1018), photographer: Jürgen Hans/objektfotograf.ch

Lighting

Lighting


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.

Collection Online

For image enquiries, please contact pictures(at)design-museum.de

Le Corbusier, LC-MU-13-A, 1951/52, © VG Bild-Kunst, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MLA-1718), photographer: Daniel Spehr
Wilhelm Wagenfeld, MT 10, 1923/24 © VG Bild-Kunst, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MLA-1016), photographer unknown
Joe Colombo, Metacrilato AJC.0627, 1965, © Studio Joe Colombo, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MLA-1135), photographer: Andreas Jung
Rody Graumans, DMD 08, 85 lamps, 1993, © Rody Graumans/Droog Design, photo: Vitra Design Museum (MLA-1126), photographer: Jürgen Hans/objektfotograf.ch

Other Collectibles

Other Collectibles


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.

Collection Online

For image enquiries, please contact pictures(at)design-museum.de

Ettore Sottsass & Perry A. King, Valentine portable typewriter, 1969
T 1000 World Receiver, Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
George Nelson, Besteck für Briddell
Marcel Breuer Architekturmodell

Library

Library


The Vitra Design Museum Library is a research library for design and architecture, specializing in furniture design and its influence on interior architecture from the beginning of the industrial age to the present. In addition, the library  includes printed matter related to the applied arts, photography, urban planning, the humanities, and social and applied sciences. 

The library’s holdings encompass over 7000 volumes on open-stack shelving and a large inventory of international periodicals from the 1950s up to today, providing primary research material for the preparation of new exhibitions and projects, along with sources for the documentation and contextualisation of objects in the museum collection and its archives.

Information about the contents of the Vitra Design Museum Library, which belongs to the SWB Library Network (Südwestdeutscher Bibliotheksverbund), is accessible through an online catalogue.

The non-circulating library is open to the public by prior appointment from 9.00 – 12.00 am and 1.00 – 5.00 pm on weekdays. If you would like to visit the library, please contact bibliothek@design-museum.de.

Catalogue
Registration form
Conditions of Use

Archive & Estates

Archive & Estates


The estates of prominent designers such as Charles & Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, Anton Lorenz, George Nelson and others are maintained in the archive of the Vitra Design Museum. The holdings also include company publications, brochures, posters, patent documents and drawings.

If you have questions regarding the archive, please contact
archive(at)design-museum.de

Vitra Design Museum archive, © photo: Vitra Design Museum, photographer: Andreas Sütterlin
Chairs by Harry Bertoia, Catalogue frontispiece, Knoll Accociates Inc.,1966, © Vitra Design Museum, Bertoia Estate (MAR-15281)

Restoration

Restoration


The preservation and restoration of the objects in the Vitra Design Museum collection and archive is overseen by the museum’s own conservation workshop. A special focus of this work is devoted to the issues and problems posed by the aging of plastic materials. In cooperation with international research institutes, universities and other museums, the Vitra Design Museum conservation workshop is constantly gaining new knowledge in this area. Below you can find some projects from the museum’s restoration department.



Conservation Lab, photo: Vitra Design Museum