Vitra Design Museum presents ‘Home stories’. Visionary interiors from the past 100 years

Vitra-Design-Museum-2020-Home Stories-Casa-de-Vidro

Vitra Design Museum presents ‘Home stories’. Visionary interiors from the past 100 years

With the major exhibition ‘Home Stories: 100 Years, 20 Visionary Interiors‘ (8 February / 23 August 2020) the Vitra Design Museum aims to reopen the conversation about the contemporary private interior and its evolution.
In a narrative leading visitors backward in time, the exhibition highlights important societal, political, urban, and technical shifts that have shaped the design and the use of the Western interior over the last 100 years.
The exhibition is organized in 4 large areas.

The first one, entitled “Space, Economy, and Atmosphere: 2000 – Today” presents some contemporary interiors developed in response to crucial issues of our time, such as the lack of affordable living spaces and the growing importance of the sharing economy. Among the illustrated projects there is also “Granby Four Streets Community Housing” in Liverpool (2013-2017) launched by the multidisciplinary collective ‘Assembl ‘ which, in close collaboration with potential inhabitants, has recovered some Victorian houses from urban decay, has redesigned the interiors adapting them to contemporary needs, and has implemented a laboratory that reuses building materials to create furnishings for new spaces.


Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon, Antivilla, Krampnitz, Germany, 2010–15 Courtesy of Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon, photo: Erica Overmeer / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020

Vitra-Design-Museum-2020-Home Stories-Capsule-Tower

Noritaka Minami, A504 I (Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, Japan), 2012 © Noritaka Minami

The next section, ‘Rethinking the Interior: 1960 – 1980‘, examines the radical changes in interior design from the 1960s to the 1980s: from Memphis furniture (illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld’s Monte Carlo house) to the interiors designed by Claude Parent in 1973 in collaboration with the philosopher Paul Virilio; from the Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory in 1960s to the explosion of the phenomena IKEA, which contributed to revolutionizing the way we perceive furniture, not objects to be handed down from generation to generation but short-lived consumer products.


Karl Lagerfeld’s Monte Carlo Apartment (with designs by Memphis), Monaco, 1982 © Jacques Schumacher


Verner Panton, Phantasy Landscape at the exhibition ‘Visiona 2’, Cologne, Germany, 1970
© Verner Panton Design AG, Basel


IKEA, Catalogue cover, 1974 © Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

Factory Panorama with Andy

Nat Finkelstein, Factory Panorama with Andy Warhol, New York City, USA c. 1965
© Nat Finkelstein Estate / All rights reserved

The third section of the exhibition, entitled ‘Nature and Technology: 1940 – 1960‘, tells of a decisive era in the formation of modern interiors, that of the years following the Second World War when modern style entered the domestic realm of a large number of people. The mid-twentieth century saw modern language become more refined and approaches to interior design emerged that are still relevant today: the “House of the Future” designed by Peter and Alison Smithson for the Ideal Home Show in London in 1956 included very powerful home automation. Modernity thus enters the collective imagination, also becoming the object of acute irony, as in the exhilarating film by Jaques tatì “Mon Oncle” (1958), in which the house (Villa Arpel) comes to dominate its inhabitants.
With ‘The birth of the modern interior‘ the exhibition traces the origins of modernity when reflection on private interiors was at the center of the architectural debate. This is exemplified by the popular housing program “Das Neue Frankfurt” (1925-30) directed by the architect Ernst May: the program included not only Margarete Schütte Lihotzky’s ‘Frankfurt kitchen’ (1926) but also affordable prices designed by Ferdinand Kramer and Adolf Schuster.
While May pursued social research, other architects radically reinvented the distribution and versatility of the domestic space, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who in the Villa Tugendhat in Brno (1928–30) designed one of the first houses based on the open-plan concept, with fluid spaces in which carefully placed furnishings and textiles created islands for different uses.
Contrary to the modernist positions some of their contemporaries embraced ornamentation as a means of expression. Elsie de Wolfe, who published her book »The House in Good Taste« in 1913, is often regarded as one of the first professional interior decorators.
During the twentieth century, the debate on interior design has evolved between opposite poles: functionalism and formal reduction on the one hand and the exaltation of individuality and ornament on the other, both continue to shape the spaces of our homes.


Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic, 1930 © Archive Štenc Praha/ VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2020


Josef Frank, Villa Beer, Vienna, Austria, 1929 – 31 © MAK

Home Stories: 100 Years, 20 Visionary Interiors
8 February / 23 August  2020
Vitra Design Museum
Charles-Eames-Straße 2, 79576 Weil am Rhein, Germany

Cover image: Lina Bo Bardi, Casa de Vidro, São Paulo, Brazil, 1952 © Nelson Kon, 2002
All images courtesy of Vitra Design Museum  |

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