Started in 1934 as a shop fitting company, Vitra set a new turning point in the furniture market in 1957 when it acquired the license to produce the Eames Chair from Herman Miller. Since then, the brand has continued to grow through collaboration with contemporary designers selected based on its keen design perspective.

Welcome to the 33rd issue of B. Here’s a story from one of the companies I used to work for: When we were a few hundred workers strong, we all used the same, ordinary chairs. A few of the employees had back problems and wanted to use different chairs, even if they had to pay for it themselves. I introduced one of those people to Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair, which stirred the attention of many other workers. From that small beginning management became convinced they should provide this chair for the whole company, which then grew to over 4000 employees.

For office workers, a chair is the tool they use the most and one that directly affects their health. Chairs are also an important element in office interior design. After I completed an office environment project based on my thoughts about working spaces, many people asked me about ideas for innovative working environments. I asked them about two things: their furniture tastes and budget. Most people are willing to pay a lot for flashy decorations for the ceiling and walls, but not for the furniture. In fact, I believe the design of an office is almost completed simply by selecting good furniture. Most people don’t seem to be aware of the importance of investing in furniture. Instead, furniture is usually the first item considered when cutting costs.

The truth is that it’s hard to get rid of and upgrade all the old furniture as the company grows and the number of workers increases, and so companies end up buying more of the same things. Therefore, a new company needs to be careful when choosing the furniture in its first office. While it may feel like good furniture is too expensive, when you factor in how long the furniture will be used and the future satisfaction of the individual workers and the organization as a whole, good furniture might be the cheapest way to generate the greatest workplace satisfaction and pride.

This issue introduces Vitra, a furniture manufacturer and distributor that began in 1934 as a small furniture store in Switzerland. There are two things about the brand that drew my attention. The first is that Vitra does not have an in-house team of designers, even though the company considers designers the most important part of the brand. Vitra always collaborates with independent design groups outside the company and respects their opinions. This enables the brand to bring about innovative change in the product life cycle and to be a commendable example of when manufacturing and design go hand in hand. The second feature is their perspective on how people work, which they apply to their office furniture designs. Vitra has expanded the concept of an office from personal working spaces to communal interaction spaces, and has brought new efficiency into offices by transforming systematic working spaces into something homier and more comfortable. Vitra has blurred the boundary between spaces to create “homes where you can work” or “home-like offices” that ultimately suggest the future of residential and office spaces.

The Swedish brand Ikea has also transformed the furniture field. The change was very significant as it allowed consumers to have practical and simply designed furniture at good prices. But furniture isn’t something that you throw away or replace often, and it becomes even more precious when it bears the traces of time you’ve spent with your family and friends. Furniture is always with you at home and at work, and the true value of sophisticated taste and investing in furniture is revealed as time passes. I’d like to encourage you to understand the brand history and design stories of your own furniture, down to the smallest pieces. Someday, that piece of furniture will be a time machine taking you back to precious memories.

PublisherSuyong Joh

http://www.johsuyong.com

Intro


Publisher’s Note


Comments

Vitra comments and reviews from SNS and the web


Into the Market

Scenes from designer furniture stores


Opinion

Christina Schmidt, design select shop owner


Shops

Positions
The diverse shops that carry Vitra


Lineup

Office System
Vitra office furniture systems
Home Collection
Vitra home collection lines


Opinion

Myeonghan Kim, CEO of aA Design Museum


Brand to Brand

VS
Comparing Vitra product lines with those from other brands


Opinion

Patrick Seguin, designer furniture and architecture gallery owner


Collage

Private spaces where furniture pieces from several distinct brands coexist in harmony


User Choice

Premium Brands
Premium design brands recommended by Vitra users


Opinion

Jonathan Kim, Korean branch director of interior design consulting firm SL+A


Environment

Details
Analysis of Vitra furniture systems
Office Furniture
Working spaces set up using Vitra office furniture


Vitra Scene


Brand Story

Vitra evolves from a European distributor of American designer furniture into a modern design leader


Album

Scenes from the Vitra test process


Campus

The Vitra campus reflects the brand’s design philosophy


Communications

Vitra’s marketing campaign includes publications, exhibitions, lectures, and store displays


Businesses

Other furniture brands with design approaches similar to Vitra’s


Timeline

History of major design trends in the furniture industry


Quotes

Quotes from Vitra CEO Rolf Fehlbaum


Figures

The global furniture market and Vitra


From the Editor in Chief


Outro



PUBLICATION RIGHT

Publisher
Suyong Joh

Editor In Chief
Taehyuk Choi

Issue Editor
Heeyoung Yoo
Senior Editor
Eunsung Park
Editor
Yunseong Jang, Bora Nam
Translation Editor
Heejean Kim
Intern Editor
Jaeeun Shin
Translation
Hyunkyung Yoo, Rancy Kim, Seongae Yang, Soonok Hwang
Copy Editing
Eugene Larsen-Hallok
Proofreading
Simon Chan
Lead Designer
Younghyun Ok
Designer
Ayoon Jung, Minyoung Kim
Film Designer
Onedoe Jung
Distribution
Nohseon Song
Correspondents
Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Nari Park (London), Jungho Lee (New York), Jeewon Lim (Milan), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
Publishing
JOH & Company
Printed in the Republic of Korea
ISBN
978-89-98415-65-5 03050

REFERENCES

Project Vitra: Sites, Products, Authors, Museum, Collection, Signs
100 Masterpieces from the Vitra Design Museum Collection
The Design Work of Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
Eames: Beautiful Details
Vitra Campus: Architecture Design Industry
Rolf Fehlbaum, Design as Industry: Modernism at the International Design Symposium
Eames Lounge Chair Manufacturing in the Vitra Atelier