THE SUNDAY CLASSICS - VITSOE
So in an ideal world my home (and that of every client I work with) would be filled with original design classics. Pieces that have an honesty and a design integrity that comes with heritage and brand values. Pieces thats stand the test of time in terms of quality and design. As I get the older nothing rings more true in my ears than buy cheap buy twice. Especially true in fashion retail ..but thats a whole different blog post!.
Design Classics in the world of interiors are expensive. But they are made to last and given that your buying a piece you love and that it is functional and appeals to your style means it will never date in your home. So this is the first of a Sunday Classics Series on furniture thats highly collectable and made to last (lets face it Ikea is not going to be handed down to your kids).The blog series we're hoping will expand ours and hopefully your knowledge and we can totally geek out together!
Before I go into the history and brand story of Vitsoe from a personal point of view I cannot recommend this brand enough. Their bespoke FREE customer service is unfailable as is the quality and design of the products. Vitsoe is one of those brands that has unconsciously been part of your life. the products do not scream look at me...but they are everywhere. Wether it be you college library, local deli or the museum book shop. There most famous product is the 606 shelving system which is to date is the most functional (heavy duty) stylish shelving system I can find for both domestic and commercial purposes. Home libraries are becoming increasing popular but finding shelves that can take the weigh is impossible on the high street. Lots of great shelving for displaying objects but not books.
Vitsoe shelving system is customisable to any configuration with their range of components. So perfect for basically any end use library, kitchen..shop. The London based sales and design team are at hand to design to your requirements and make several change until your happy (thanks Joana! version i). And whilst Vitsoe isn't cheap its a lot cheaper then a carpenter and the best think is the system can be added to or moved to another room or house. Its built to last and to build on. I love the ethics of this company, They have a one price for everyone policy (no trade discounts or sales) 365 days a year. Including Black Friday were they actually close the store and give the staff a day off to distance them self from the madness. (I Love!)
They also have a centre for recycling all there packaging. The customer side of the business model is as well thought out as the product...as it should be ...we wouldn't be anywhere if we didn't have customers!
Dieter rams Ten Principles of good design are key to the products he designed ... read the link ... how many things do you own that take on these principles? Fascinating the thinking and ethos that goes behind making a brand were principles matter. Not something that is easy to do when in manufacturing and making a profit margin. But imperative to their ethos "Living better, with less, that lasts longer"
Watch this clip with their plea agents obsolescence...which we can all learn from. Especially big companies such as Apple..listen up! You have a responsibility to your consumers or groupies (me included). Making sexy products GREAT but they should be made to last not become redundant as we haven't bought into the next operating system or a sexier twerk on the old version has just launched!
So a little Sunday education on the Vitsoe brand story.... enjoy
"Since 1959 Vitsœ has made long-living furniture, always striving to be better rather than newer"
This was Vitsœ’s proposition in 1959: to eschew fashion whilst creating products that would be the blank canvas on which to paint your colourful life.
After more than half a century our resolve is stronger than ever: more of us must learn the art of living better with less that lasts longer.
Vitsœ (pronounced ‘vit-soo’) was the name of the company’s founder, Niels Vitsœ (1913-1995).
While selling Danish furniture in post-war Germany, this man of immense charm, grace, determination and dry wit was introduced to a youthful Dieter Rams by fellow designer Otto Zapf.
In 1959 they founded a company called ‘Vitsœ+Zapf’ to realise Rams’s furniture ideas. (Erwin and Artur Braun had concluded, with some foresight, that it could only be good for Braun if Rams were allowed to develop his other talents simultaneously.)
Otto Zapf left the company in 1969 and it became, simply, Vitsœ. A distinguished showroom opened in the heart of Frankfurt which became an important meeting place for the world’s design literati.
Dieter Rams was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1932. He was strongly influenced by the presence of his grandfather who was a carpenter. Rams’s early awards for carpentry led to him training as an architect as Germany was rebuilt in the early 1950s.
Prompted by an eagle-eyed friend, Rams applied for a job at the German electrical products company, Braun, in 1955. He was recruited by Erwin and Artur Braun following the death of their father and his job was to modernise the interiors of the company that was launching revolutionary electrical products.
Rams became a protégé of the Ulm School of Design (successor to the Bauhaus) luminaries Hans Gugelot, Fritz Eichler and Otl Aicher.
He quickly became involved in product design – famously adding the clear perspex lid to the SK4 radiogram in 1956 – and was appointed head of design at Braun from 1961 to 1995.
Together with his design team, he was responsible for many of the seminal domestic electrical products – and some furniture – of the 20th century.
Designing for Vitsœ since 1959
In his first year at Braun, a 23-year-old Dieter Rams presented a sketch of his proposals for the new interiors at the company.
On the back wall of the boldly modern scheme can be seen the very first notion of a track-based, wall-mounted storage system.
In 1959, Dieter Rams asked Erwin Braun if he could design furniture for Niels Vitsœ and Otto Zapf. Braun’s spontaneous answer was “Yes. It will help the market for our radios.”
A year later the wall-mounted 606 Universal Shelving System was launched.
The dual career of Dieter Rams continued until his retirement from Braun in 1997. He remains convinced that the very best design can only be achieved from design teams within companies.
He continues to work with Vitsœ to this day.
In 1976 Rams delivered a frank and prescient speech in New York. It was titled ‘Design by Vitsœ’ and in it he asserted his commitment to responsible design.
He drew attention to an “increasing and irreversible shortage of natural resources”. Believing that good design can only come from an understanding of people, Rams asked designers – indeed, everyone – to take more responsibility for the state of the world around them.
“I imagine our current situation will cause future generations to shudder at the thoughtlessness in the way in which we today fill our homes, our cities and our landscape with a chaos of assorted junk.”
Ever since, Rams has been an outspoken voice calling for “an end to the era of wastefulness” and to consider how we can continue to live on a planet with finite resources if we simply throw everything away.
Its incredibly inspiring delving into the achieves and ethos of established brands. I think its very clear why Vitsoe are still going strong 60 year later.