Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Thank you for signing up to Wallpaper. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
To coincide with the London Design Festival 2022 (17 – 25 September), Vitra unveils its new London showroom, with a renovation of the grade II-listed Tramshed. The building was originally designed in 1905 by Emmanuel Vincent Harris, and served as an electricity transformer station for the Eastern London Tramway.
This is the first time Vitra has undertaken a renovation project of this scale and ambition, and the team, led by the company’s creative director of scenography, Till Weber, respectfully restored the space to highlight its original features. The building, Weber explains, was designed in classical mannerist style, featuring a stock brick façade introducing a double-height hall that allowed cranes and machinery to operate in the space. Inside, the company will showcase its contemporary collections – by the likes of Jasper Morrison and Barber Osgerby, who also happen to be neighbours – as well as reissues of design legends and pieces by Artek.
‘We approached the project with tremendous respect,’ explains Weber, ‘as it is a pleasure and a privilege to maintain historical buildings and their precious rare detailing and materials, preserving what is possible, revealing and showing the traces of time instead of covering them up.’ Throughout the space, original features were maintained as close to the original as possible, stripping out the unnecessary elements left from previous renovations and celebrating the building’s patina.
The final result, Weber notes, is ‘a reaction to the space’, showing how the colourful, modern forms of Vitra’s furniture and objects can interact with historical surroundings, the old and the new enriching each other.
Vitra London showroom: an eclectic harmony of spaces
The showroom’s structure offers a sense of discovery: the grand hall’s space (the centre of what is dubbed ‘The Club’) is interrupted by a silver curtain at its centre, creating a secluded oval space and dividing the front area from the back.
On one side, a terrazzo bar (‘a communal centrepiece’, comments Weber) contributes to enliven the space, while the side aisle opposite presents a showcase of office furniture responding to a diverse range of needs – from meetings to workshops to focus work.
Upstairs, a mezzanine area is treated as an aesthetically calming retreat, and, as Weber notes, an opportunity to ‘show a collage of the Vitra approach to home interiors’. Plants, accessories and artworks (including a new body of work by Erwan Bouroullec for The Wrong Shop) complete the interiors.
Downstairs, the building’s basement was transformed to create ‘The Gallery’, an industrial white box that will be used for exhibitions – and that makes its debut with a presentation of Jean Prouve’s classics in a newly curated palette of colours. A further event and hospitality space (‘The Loft') at the back of the building will open in 2023.
‘It was necessary to find an interior language compatible with the impressive industrial architecture of the Tramshed,’ explains Weber. The colour scheme chosen for the main space – based on white, dark red and green – echoes the building’s existing architectural colours. ‘Carefully curating the selection of furnishings, we aimed for a novel interplay between the historic building’s existing colours and materials and new elements and furniture by Vitra and Artek.
‘This space for us is an opportunity to play, and it offers it all: we can do a museum-style set-up, we can present new pieces, and we can offer different ways to look at focused and communal work. It shows that Vitra can do transversal spaces well.
32 Rivington St
Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
Ronan Bouroullec book merges art, design and everyday life
‘Ronan Bouroullec: Day After Day’, from Phaidon, is a visual inventory of the French designer’s work, artistic output and daily inspiration
By Rosa Bertoli Published
Inside the gleaming new Comme des Garçons store in Paris
Comme des Garçons reveals a four-storey new retail space in Paris, housing lines previously only available in Japan, as well as exclusive reissues of Rei Kawakubo’s collectible furniture
By Jack Moss Published
Eva Jospin and Ruinart put the fizz in Frieze London 2023
Champagne house Ruinart brings artist Eva Jospin’s vision of its terroir to Frieze London 2023, and celebrates with a limited edition Jeroboam of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
By Simon Mills Published
Alessi Occasional Objects: Virgil Abloh’s take on cutlery
Best Cross Pollination: Alessi's cutlery by the late designer Virgil Abloh, in collaboration with his London studio Alaska Alaska, is awarded at the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2023
By Rosa Bertoli Published
Design Miami 2022: highlights from the fair and around town
Design Miami 2022 (30 November – 4 December) aims at ‘rebooting the roots of our relationship with nature and collective structures, ecospheres, and urban contexts’
By Sujata Burman Last updated
Salon Art + Design 2022: design highlights not to miss
Wallpaper* highlights from Salon Art + Design 2022, New York
By Tilly Macalister-Smith Last updated
Design Week Lagos 2022 celebrates creativity and innovation in West Africa and beyond
Curated by founder Titi Ogufere, Design Week Lagos 2022 is based on a theme of ‘Beyond The Box’
By Ugonna-Ora Owoh Last updated
Designart Tokyo transforms the city into a museum of creativity
Designart Tokyo presents global design highlights through a series of exhibitions involving global creative talent and traditional Japanese craft
By Danielle Demetriou Last updated
‘R for Repair’ at London Design Festival displays broken objects, re-formed
In the second half of a two-part exhibition and as part of London Design Festival 2022, ‘R for Repair’ at the V&A displays broken objects, re-formed
By Martha Elliott Last updated
‘Finding quality through the act of making’: Pearson Lloyd celebrates 25 years of design
Pearson Lloyd’s show ‘Change Making’ reflects on past designs from its archives, showcasing the influences on and evolution of the studio, from furniture design to the NHS
By Martha Elliott Last updated
Tom Dixon marks his studio's 20 years with a show of design experiments
Mushroom, cork, steel coral and more: Tom Dixon showcases an overview of his design experiments as he celebrates his practice's 20 years
By Rosa Bertoli Last updated