How do you set yourself apart from a marketplace full of showrooms and a cornucopia of online outlets? How do you build a high-end furniture brand and then attract design enthusiasts? The German brand,Vitra’s answer is you hire a top architect and build a museum level building in which to display the Vitra collections.
The concept of a museum makes sense for Vitra. It catches two birds with one stroke:
(1) Since the notion of people travelling to museums is well established making Vitra Haus a design mecca / travel destination is a clever way to draw design enthusiasts to their somewhat out-of-the-way location in Weil am Rhein, Germany.
(2) In general, collections presented in museum settings are coveted. Designed home improvement products are no newcomers to museums. The Museum of Modern Art MOMA in New York City, for example presents their rather extensive design collections in a permanent installation. Museum collections create value enhancements. This implication holds even though Vitra’s home décor collections are clearly owned and operated by the manufacturer.
The top design bureau of Herzog & deMeuron was the architect to Vitra’s building. Individual living environments are presented as separate “modules” within which to experience the various Vitra collections. In other words, visitors get to experience how to live in entire Vitra spaces. By contrast, most furniture is sold out of some showroom perhaps with the endorsement of a designer but with little connection to the brand by most homeowners.
Vitra does one more clever thing: it allows purchasers of the Eames chair to select their leathers and observe the making of “their” chair right there in the Vitra Haus workshop. The process illustrates the great care that goes into the making of every Eames chair with implication of similar attentiveness to Vitra furniture at large.
Both the museum framework and the workshop experience elevate the object called “chair” into a personal experience to talk about, tweet about and write about.
Especially given the number of knock-offs to their famous furniture lines this is indeed VERY CLEVER!