Vitra Design Museum

The Vitra Design Museum is a Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. The legal form of the museum is a foundation. Rolf Fehlbaum, the owner of the furniture manufacturer Vitra, initially planned a building for a permanent exhibition of his chair and furniture collection. After his encounter with Alexander von Vegesack it was conceived and realized as a design museum for temporary exhibitions and events. Alexander von Vegesack is the co-founder of the museum and was its director from 1989 to 2010. The Vitra Design Museum changing thematic exhibitions, retrospectives and workshops in the fields of architecture and design are offered. While it was the former objective of the museum, to promote a " popularization of Design", today's curators make a point of that design also "explores and conveys " is.


The focus of the collection is the furniture and interior design. Basis was once the estate of the North American furniture designer and architect Charles and Ray Eames, whose designs are produced by Vitra and sold in Europe. 1986 bought the wrong tree later director of the museum Vegesack 150 chairs from the collection from. The furniture collection now includes nearly all known industrial designers such as George Nelson, Alvar Aalto, Verner Panton, Dieter Rams, Jean Prouvé and Michael Thonet. A special feature is the acquisition, archiving and maintenance of estates of deceased designer personalities. The collection may therefore present extensively by the sketches of the prototypes to the realized product design processes. In addition to the furniture collection is also a library and an archive of the estates of designers have been established. Objects from the collection are usually seen in the context of the changing museum exhibitions. The collection itself is not accessible.

From 1 July 2000 to 18 January 2004, the Vitra Design Museum had a second seat in the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg in a listed former Trafohalle Bewag. There, in addition to the exhibitions from Weil am Rhein also own offers were shown how design Berlin! New projects for a changing city, Issey Miyake and Dai Fujiwara: A- Poc Making and Cartier design. As Bewag wanted to sell the building, the plan was a move to the Cultural Pfeffersberg. But after the building design and the foundation stone was laid in 2008, the project was discontinued for unknown reasons.

On the Vitra Campus, designed by Herzog & de Meuron Vitra House was opened close to the Vitra Design Museum in 2010. Rolf Fehlbaum dedicated this building his mother died in 2009 Erika wrong tree. On the ground floor of the house, the Vitra Vitra Design Museum Shop is located.


The museum and the underlying production and administration buildings were designed by the American architect Frank O. Gehry, the project was realized in cooperation with the Lörrach architect Günter Pfeifer. After a construction period of three years, it was opened on 3rd November 1989. With this construction Gehry turned from his - from material language - until then usual. Instead of a mixture of different materials he limited himself to white plaster and titanium zinc. The museum marks - along with the also designed by Gehry gatehouse - one of the entrances to the premises. The sculptural structure is related to the surrounding fruit trees and the sculpture " Balancing Tools " by sculptor Claes Oldenburg.

This is Gehry's first building in Europe and around the second construction of a number of designs of internationally renowned architects on the premises. Previously a production hall was already incurred on a project by British Nicholas Grimshaw, followed by a building for the fire department Zaha Hadid - later used temporarily as an exhibition building - a conference pavilion of the Japanese Tadao Ando and a factory building by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. Frank Gehry realized later another building for the company in the Swiss Birsfelden.

Next to the museum and rare architectural works will be exhibited on the premises of Vitra. These are a filling station house of the French designer Jean Prouvé and a geodesic dome tent by Richard Buckminster Fuller.


Most exhibitions go as touring exhibitions in major museums around the world. At all exhibitions catalogs or detailed accompanying volumes have been created, most of which were published by the company's own publishing house.