They are Europe’s biggest interior design influencers. Together, they have an audience of millions of followers. One Instagram photo from them earns hundreds of likes in a New York minute. Brands bend over backwards to be featured on their feed – and aren’t afraid to pay a hefty sum for the privilege. All these insanely important influencers showed up one fine winter morning at the impressive Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein – and oh yes, little old me was there as well. Yes, I was part of the Vitra Influencers Tour and let me tell you, it was quite an experience.
Instagram Stories were apparently where it was at – an odd choice, since these short videos disappear after only one day. But what do I know? I also had a sneaking suspicion that at least some of the influencers were part of what is called an Instagram pod, which is basically a group of Instagrammers who agree on liking and commenting on each other’s posts as quickly as possible so that it tricks the Instagram algorithm into placing a photo higher on the feeds of their followers. You may or may not call that cheating (I know what I would call it), but in any case it was fascinating to observe how some influencers on our tour seemed to zone out or occasionally even disappear from the scene altogether when there wasn’t anything Instagrammable to be seen. Design and architecture deserve better than being reduced to a fleeting Instagram Story. It’s an open door, I know, but I felt I needed to get that off my chest. So there.
Now, Vitra is a brand that is very dear to my heart. It has a rich history, it manufactures all of its furniture in Europe and continues to stay ahead of the game by collaborating with the very best contemporary designers and architects in the world. The influencers and I spent two days roaming the Vitra Campus and I, for one, enjoyed every single minute of it. Let’s take a look!
Surely, you can’t go on an international influencers tour on an empty stomach! We started off with lunch at the Vitra Depot Deli. Lots of vegan food, quite a few vegetarian options and an occasional piece of fish or meat to nibble on. Just the way it should be!
We kicked off the tour at the Vitra Conservation Lab – so great to see Vitra had acquired some of Nendo’s Manga chairs that were in Milan two years ago…or is it three years already?
Oh look, it’s the famous Eames House of Cards – a great gift for all those funny uncles such as me who like nothing more than imposing their impeccable taste on their unsuspecting nephews and nieces.
Here’s Charles Eames himself playing with his cards while smoking a pipe because why not?
The Eames plywood Elephant is a design icon – here’s the original on display at the excellent Vitra Museum! To be honest, I never understood its appeal, but there you go. You can’t like everything, right?
Through the years, I’ve learned that for a relatively clean and simple plywood chair to stand out, you should put it in a more frivolous setting. As you can see here, however, a totally minimalist interior can work as well. Sometimes.
Why Vitra won’t release new versions of these illustrated chairs at their museum is anyone’s guess. In three words, I think they look FAN TAS TIC! Are you listening, Vitra?
This trashcan chair is basically a model of a prototype. Don’t catch my drift? Then head over to Eamesoffice.com for more details.
My absolute, total, no doubts about it favorite at the Vitra Museum, however, was the multi-screen Eames Think display. I took tons of pictures of it, but I also found thisYouTube video that gives you a much better impression of the pre-Trumpian America the world loved and admired. Not a deplorable in sight!
On day two, we all went on a architecture tour of the Vitra campus. Our tour guide knew just about everything about every building and so it was a pleasure to listen to her. You can check out all of the architecture on the Vitra Campus Architecture website. And as you can see, it’s a veritable who’s who of contemporary architecture as you can see! The facade of the Vitra Factory Building, designed by SANAA, was particularly impressive.
Famous architect Zaha Hadid (may she rest in peace in an impeccably designed building in heaven that has so many curves it makes God’s head spin) once designed the fire station on the Vitra Campus.
In 1993, Japanese architect Tadao Ando designed the Vitra Conference Pavilion. It was a particular favorite among the influencers – we were all over this serene vision of minimalist perfection like a bunch of locusts in full berserker mode.
All bow to the extreme cuteness that is this replica of the first serially manufactured gas stations designed by Jean Prouvé!
Time for some R & R at the Villa Hager – everything on the tour was so well-organized!
With all those influencers walking around, it was quite a challenge to take some decent photo’s – but I managed! It was so nice to see the furniture presented in the setting of an actual house.
On to the next highlight of our tour – the VitraHaus designed by Herzog & de Meuron. When you think of it, the Vitra Campus almost like an amusement park for grown-ups, don’t you think?
On the top floor, India Mahdavi had designed a wonderful Alice in Vitralandesque interior.
The Heart Cone Chair and a Cone Chair by Verner Panton make a lovely couple, don’t you think?
The yellow Hella Jongerius Polder sofa looks soooo much better with a sheep skin on it!
Italian designer Elena Salmistraro was one of the influencers tour. One of her Primates vases was also on display at the VitraHaus. This is one woman who does not monkey around!
Ah yes, Alexander Girard. Always loved him. Always will.
PS: I’ll share the photos I took at the Vitra Schaudepot later!