Vitra – Building the Colour and Material Library


Verner Panton's 1970 Amoebe chair

Verner Panton’s 1970 Amoebe chair

Vitra Background

Vitra is a Swiss-owned family run company, whose products are installed worldwide by architects, companies and private users to build inspirational spaces for living, working and shopping as well as public areas.

Vitra have a wonderful showroom up the road from us in Clerkenwell which is chock full of iconic furniture and we’ve spoken to Vitra about taking all our students up there for a talk and a good look round – all of which will be a great experience.

They work and have worked with a range of different furniture designers (Eames and Verner Panton just as examples) and it’s the relationship and trust that Vitra forges with such an array of different designers that is the key to the success of their product development.


Vitra Colour & Material Library


Hella Jongerius

Ten years ago, the designer Hella Jongerius began a research project for  Vitra to study the properties and possibilities of colours, textures, finishes and materials. This long-term project has resulted in the Vitra Colour & Material Library, which is devoted to the establishment and further development of an intelligent system of colours, materials and textiles that make it easy to create a signature look for offices, homes and public spaces.

Hella Jongerius’ (1963, Netherlands) work combines the traditional with the contemporary, the newest technologies with age-old craft techniques. She aims to create products with individual character by including craft elements in the industrial production process.

Many of Jongerius’ products can be found in the permanent collections of important museums (such as MoMA, New York, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam). Hella Jongerius lives and works in Berlin.

What sparked your interest in colour?

‘My fascination with colour emerges from its enigmatic, inscrutable quality. Colour binds together a range of important topics in life: the aesthetic value in art, the scientific research into our human perception, the philosophical questions on the words we use to address colours, the social and cultural relevance of colour in our society. All these subjects are connected to our everyday experience of seeing the world in colour’

CasaVitra at Fuorisalone 2016_1336803_masterDo you have a favourite colour?

‘I truly do not have a favourite colour’, Jongerius states. ‘The many possibilities can knock you off your feet; they can make you feel insecure. This diversity feels overwhelming to me, to this day. After all, colour is a complex subject: it changes over the course of the day and is very difficult to recall from memory. I have only one strong conviction and piece of advice on the subject: when dealing with colours, trust your intuition.’

The publication of her book “I Don’t Have A Favourite Colour” tells the story of Jongerius’ experiments in her own words. Drawing on the colour theories of Michel-Eugène Chevreul, her own weaving experiments in her Berlin studio and projects by great 20th century designers, including Jean Prouvé and Verner Panton, which she discovered in the Vitra Design Museum archive, as well as her collaborations with contemporaries like Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Jasper Morrison, Jongerius describes how her understanding of colour, light and materials has evolved during her research, culminating in the formation of the Vitra Colour and Material Library.



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