Opendesk X The Vitra Schaudepot

Opendesk’s Valovi chair and Edie stool are both now part of the Vitra Design Museum’s permanent collection.

Opendesk were invited to the opening of Vitra’s Schaudepot, a unique display and storage facility for their permanent collection of contemporary design pieces. Built by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the building is the latest addition to the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein.

Alongside iconic pieces from renowned designers (think Charles & Ray Eames, Gerrit Rietveld and Alvar Aalto) you’ll find Opendesk’s Valovi chair and Edie stool, claiming their own small places in design history.

Nestled on the East Bank of the Rhine River close to where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, the Vitra Campus is a remarkable gathering of contemporary architecture that brings together the cultural and commercial aspects of the Swiss furniture manufacturer. Designed by internationally renowned architects, the campus is now a fulcrum of world-leading design, with notable buildings including production facilities (Nicholas Grimshaw in 1981 and Alvaro Siza in 1994), a Fire Station (Zaha Hadid, 1993), Conference Pavillion (Tadao Ando, 1993), Design Museum (Frank Gehry, 1989), Vitra House exhibition space, shop and restaurant (Herzog & de Meuron, 2009), and most recently the Schaudepot, by the same Basel-based architects.

The Schaudepot is a new typology of building; part museum and part historical archive. All items here are drawn from the Vitra Design Museum’s 20,000-piece collection and amongst these you’ll find a comprehensive history of contemporary design from early prototypes to rare one-off pieces including over 7,000 chairs and 1,000 lighting items. The collection was previously stored away in the Museum’s vaults, with key pieces only being surfaced as and when they were needed for a public exhibition. The Schaudepot changes that, with the collection now on permanent display for the first time.

Vitra originally wanted to create an underground exhibition space next to their archive but were persuaded by Herzog & de Meuron to create a new building above ground, connected to the archive vaults below. The project moved forward with the appointment of Marc Zehntner & Mateo Kries in 2011 as joint directors of the museum. As a result, the ‘upstairs’ pavilion now houses a cross-section of products providing a comprehensive introduction to the history of furniture design. In the words of Vitra:

“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.
On the lower ground level, the Schaudepot offers insights into additional focal points of the collection … and will be one of the world’s largest permanent exhibitions and research facilities on modern furniture design.”
— Vitra

Deliberately simple and humble in volume both inside and out, the building’s façade is composed of hand-made, mechanically ‘cracked’ red bricks, giving it a textured feel reminiscent of Aalto’s experimental brick buildings that the architects describe as a “unique fracture pattern”. Intentionally windowless for the purpose of preservation, the internal space is a singular volume and has a serene quality that allows it to exist as a backdrop to the collection within — a useful neutrality to the richness of a diverse and engaging collection.

Included in Vitra Schaudepot’s permanent ground floor display is Opendesk’s very own Valovi chair by Denis Fuzii of Studio DLux. The multi-functional chair is engineered from 19 interlocking parts and is a wonderful example of a new furniture revolution powered by digital fabrication tools, distributed manufacturing and open design.

“Being part of the Vitra collection alongside so many other world-class designs makes me very proud. I feel like Valovi is now part of the history of design, promoting a different way to produce, sell and share!”
— Denis Fuzii, Valovi chair designer

Denis told us about how thrilled he was to have his design on show at in the Schaudepot’s permanent collection, promoting principles of open design and distributed manufacturing: “The Valovi Chair makes my weeks happier because we constantly receive pictures of the Valovi in different parts of the world, and this means a lot for us and also for Open Design in general.”

The Vitra Campus is open Monday–Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Visit the Vitra Campus website for more information, and if you make the trip please be sure to snap a picture of the Valovi Chair for us!

Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu and Mark Neidermann

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