Spot On: Women Designers in the Collection

19.06.2021 – 05.05.2022

Vitra Schaudepot

The Vitra Schaudepot houses more than 400 key works from the collection of the Vitra Design Museum. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of its first opening in 2016, a new presentation concept based on annual focus topics now provides more room for current debates and changing displays. The first focus topic, »Spot On: Women Designers in the Collection«, will launch in June 2021. Under its rubric, the Vitra Schaudepot will be transformed into a laboratory for exploring the role of women in furniture design and questioning the museum’s own collection practice. New acquisitions from designers including Inga Sempé, Reiko Tanabe, Matali Crasset, and Gunjan Gupta will be juxtaposed with historical objects from the archives, for example pieces illustrating the legendary collaboration between Ray and Charles Eames.

The choice of »Spot On: Women Designers in the Collection« as the first annual focus topic reflects the fact that women’s work – both in design and in other areas – often receives too little attention from historians, collectors, curators, and the public at large. Museums have a special responsibility in this context, as do the media and universities, given their trend-forming influence on ideas of relevance, on iconic status, and personal success. The focus topic »Spot On: Women Designers in the Collection« seeks to strengthen awareness of women designers’ works and to give them an equal voice in public discourse. Both individual designer personalities and design collectives, studios, and partnerships will be examined.

The focus topic documents ongoing social change and demonstrates a new perspective on the Vitra Design Museum’s own collection. Changing displays will spotlight new acquisitions, archival treasures, and other exciting finds from the collection. Background features centre on collection icons such as Zaha Hadid’s spectacular Mesa table or the tubular steel chair by Finnish designer Maija-Liisa Komulainen, which altered the course of design history. International guest curators including Khushnu Hoof will get to present their favourite objects alongside works by newcomers such as Lisa Ertel or Anne-Sophie Oberkrome. From September 2021, numerous pieces by women designers will be adopted into the Vitra Schaudepot’s permanent exhibition.

The focus topic at the Vitra Schaudepot forms the prelude to the Vitra Design Museum’s profound long-term reassessment of the role of women in design. The next phase in this project is marked by the exhibition »Here We Are! Women in Design 1900 – Today« (23 September 2021 – 6 March 2022) opening in autumn 2021 at the Vitra Design Museum’s main building. While the annual focus topic at the Vitra Schaudepot takes the museum’s own collection as its point of departure, the exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum will broaden the horizon to include other areas of design and the wider social context from the start of the twentieth century.