Day Two – The Vitra Design Museum, Germany

The day started with Mr Jones going for a little run to France, Germany and Switzerland….about 10kms to and from the ‘Three Kings’ point where the three countries meet. Very impressive…..Mr Jones wants to be the next Sir Mo we think….

Mrs Gowers and Mr A stayed at the Hostel to drink copious amounts of coffee and ensure the students were awake, up, fed and watered.

Today we are taking the tram to the end of the line, then a ten minute walk across the border into Germany to visit the wonderful Vitra Design Museum. Below is an overview of this wonderful educational institution.

The Vitra Design Museum numbers among the world’s leading museums of design. It is dedicated to the research and presentation of design, past and present, and examines design’s relationship to architecture, art and everyday culture. In the main museum building by Frank Gehry, the museum annually mounts two major temporary exhibitions. Smaller parallel shows are presented in the Vitra Design Museum Gallery, a neighbouring exhibition space. Often developed with renowned designers, many of the museum’s exhibitions cover highly relevant contemporary themes, such as future technologies, sustainability or questions like mobility and social awareness. Others address historical aspects or protagonists.

The work of the Vitra Design Museum is based on its collection, which encompasses not only key objects of design history, but also the estates of several important figures (including Charles & Ray Eames, George Nelson, Verner Panton and Alexander Girard). The museum library and document archive are available to researchers upon request. The museum conceives its exhibitions for touring, and they are shown at venues around the world. On the Vitra Campus, they are complemented by a diverse programme of events, guided tours and workshops.


The Vitra Design Museum was founded in 1989 by the company Vitra and its owner Rolf Fehlbaum. It has its headquarters in a building by the Californian architect Frank Gehry. Originally envisioned as a private collector’s museum, the museum initially produced smaller exclusive exhibitions, such as on Erich Dieckmann or the then little-known Ron Arad. In the 1990s, the first major internationally acclaimed exhibitions were presented by the museum, including retrospectives on Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright and Luis Barragán along with influential thematic exhibitions on Czech Cubism and the future of mobility.

Parallel to this, the museum initiated its highly successful system of travelling exhibitions and began to develop its own product lines to help finance the programme of cultural activities. At the same time, the museum’s collection was continually expanded and an independent publishing house was established. In 2011, the museum inaugurated a second exhibition space, the Vitra Design Museum Gallery. Since 2016, an initial selection from the collection can be viewed online.

From 1989 to 2010, the museum was led by its founding director Alexander von Vegesack. Since 2011, the museum has been headed by Mateo Kries and Marc Zehntner.

Our day

The focus of the day was based around design history and the role of seating design since the turn of the last century. Students were given a handout with some tasks that allowed them to focus on key aspects of design and history.

We began with a tram trip and walk – the tram took us through to the last stop just on the border and then we walked through to the Vitra Design museum – about a 20 minute walk and we were lucky with the weather as it was cloudy but no real rain (light drizzle on occasion).

Once off the tram we walked into the main Vitra Museum campus and were met by some stunning architecture as the first of the many individually designed buildings came into view.

We gave the students the task – in groups,  to choose an item of furniture from the museum and carry out a ten point analysis that they could turn into a film which would be presented to the staff in a ‘dragons den’ scenario back at the Hostel after dinner.

The students then spent around two hours going through the Vitrahaus and the Vitra Schaudepot (two of the many museum buildings) looking at some of the world’s finest furniture design.






The students were commended on their behaviour, by the museum staff, for the second day running, and all the fruits of their labours can be found on the adjoining page to this blog entitled ‘Seating Designs and Development’.

Mr A, Mr J-N, Mrs G


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