Did you know that you can visit three European countries once you arrive to Basel? Basel itself is a Swiss city, then you have France just a few minutes away to the West and Germany to the North of the city. So this is why one of the chilly but sunny mornings during my stay in Basel, I decided to cross the border. It only took me half an hour to do that and I had my breakfast in Germany – in a small town called Weil am Rhein. Even though there are only around 30 thousand inhabitants in Weil am Rhein, this town has one of the most important design museums in Europe. This famous design museum together with other architecture jewels is part of Vitra Campus which was my destination on this occasion.
The whole ensemble of contemporary architecture is located in Charles Eames street 2. Ray and Charles Eames were the initial reason why the Vitra furniture company was founded in 1957. This historical collaboration was followed by many other iconic designer works that can now be seen at Vitra Campus.
Vitra production site was successfully functioning when in 1981 a lightning struck the campus and half of it was gone in the fire. This devastating incident was turned into an opportunity to create a unique space with buildings by some of the most notable architects of the late 20th century.
On my visit I could observe the first out of Japan project by Tadao Ando (Pavillion was built in 1993), the first project by Frank Gehry /cover photo/ in his now signature style with curves (Design Museum was built in 1989), one of the first Zaha Hadid’s design projects (Fire Station was built in 1993) between other projects built later by equally important architects including Vitra Haus by Herzog & de Meuron completed in 2010.
Vitra Schaudepot premises (also by Herzog & de Meuron) hold a permanent exhibition with a selection of over 400 key objects from Vitra history and from furniture design history in general. I could find chairs from the 1800s until today including fantastic designs by Gerrit Rietveld, Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright to mention a few.
“Home Stories: 100 Years, 20 Visionary Interiors” is a temporary exhibition on view now at the main Design Museum building. It is open for visitors until 23 of August this year. Curated by Jochen Eisenbrand & Anna-Mea Hoffman this project shows drawings, films, photographs and furniture models of the exceptional and significant interiors from the 1920s to the present day.
One of the designs from the “Home Stories” is displayed at the Fire Station. “Phantasy Landscape” by Verner Panton is a recreation from 1970. It is a cave-like tunnel constructed from the upholstered irregular pieces in 13 colors. It invites the viewer to come inside and experience the dreamy space which I obviously did with pleasure! A projection with the original installation at “Visiona 1970” can be viewed next to it while sitting on the unmistakable Panton chairs.
I spent around three hours exploring Vitra Campus and it was already lunchtime when I reached Depot Deli. Depot Deli is one of the two spaces available for your snack break or even a good lunch. The second cafeteria is located at the main Vitra Hause building where the flagship furniture store and the Lounge Chair Atelier is.
While enjoying my visit so much, I realized that Vitra Campus could be even more beautiful during the summer months: it has got cozy green areas prepared for picnics and a few smaller installations like the Dome by Richard Buckminster or metallic Airstream Kiosk that were closed now. You can find more information about this “nest of creativity” at their official website, and I will definitely try to revisit it in a few years and during summertime.