A new minimalist-style museum building is poised to open this week on the starchitecture-laden German campus of Vitra, a high-end modern furniture manufacturer. Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning duo Herzog & de Meuron, the Schaudepot will exhibit more than 400 pieces from the Vitra Design Museum's impressive furniture collection and give visitors an inside look at museum operations.
Inspired by the look of an industrial warehouse, the windowless brick Schaudepot, which opens June 3, was designed as a simple container to show off one of the world's most comprehensive collections of modern design. Vitra has collected more than 7,000 pieces over the decades, including work from Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton, and Alexander Girard, many that have been hidden from public view for decades.
With the opening of the 17,200-square-foot Schaudepot, this grand assemblage of furniture design now has a permanent home for display and interpretation. The opening exhibition will display 400 key pieces, including early bentwood furniture, icons of Classical Modernism by Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto and Gerrit Rietveld, as well as playful, multicolored Pop era designs and recent pieces made with a 3D printer. In addition to the main exhibition, the Schaudepot will also host a series of small, temporary exhibits throughout the year. The main, Frank Gehry-designed museum building was originally intended for such displays, but since opening in 1989, its primarily been used to stage major design exhibitions.
The new building's main ground floor space—illuminated by a grid of fluorescent tubes—houses a permanent exhibition culled from Vitra's collection, as well as temporary displays, a lobby, cafe, and store. A large window allows visitors in the main space to get a glimpse of the museum's storage areas on the level below. Another window in the museum cafe overlooks curatorial offices as well as the library.
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