From haus to home

VitraHaus by architects Herzog & de Meuron, photography Iwan Baan © Vitra

This is the VitraHaus a spectacular new building on the premises of designer furniture and manufacturing company Vitra. If you're a fan of contemporary architecture and happen to be in the suburbs of Basel (on the Swiss/German border) you can visit it. There's a shop and cafe too.

Designed by legendary architects Herzog & de Meuron - of Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing fame, and converting Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern. It is a five-storey stack of houses, abstract versions of the archetypal gabled-ended house, which stick out at gravity-defying angles. It's madness, and I love it. It's purpose? To showcase the Vitra Home Collection. 

VitraHaus at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany

A bit of background. Vitra is the acme of designer furniture in Europe. The company holds the licences to manufacture and distribute some of the greatest hits of 20th century furniture design. Classics by such luminaries as Charles & Ray Eames, Verner Panton, George Nelson, and more recently designers such as Jasper Morrison and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

And chairs, they have a lot of chairs, in fact they have their own museum devoted to them at their campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. 

Since 1981 Vitra has been commissioning world famous architects to design unique buildings here: there's the Design Museum by Frank Gehry, the Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando and the Fire Station by Zaha Hadid. It reads like a roll-call of contemporary architecture's brightest stars and the VitraHaus is the lastest addition on site.

So we know they've got some close personal architect mates, what else? Well, the company used to be known as a slightly dry supplier of office furniture, but in the past few years they've gone all interiorsy. Their Home Collection brings together past and present design classics. And this unparalleled back-catalogue is what makes them stand out. 

They've also got a good ethos. They believe you should furnish your home gradually over time, with things you really love, so it becomes a collage of your taste and experience - but maybe just have a few kick-ass pieces holding it together.

Living la vida Vitra: designer furniture you can actually live with