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Vitra Design Museum
"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see." - G. K. Chesterton
Not far from Ronchamp, France, and Basel, Switzerland, Weil am Rhein, Germany, houses the much publicized museum since the late 1980s, the Vitra Design Museum. Immediately after visiting Ronchamp, I decided to visit Vitra. My first visit took place when Frank Gehry had just completed the first building of the collectives, and most recently, after visiting Ronchamp for a second time, I decided to return to the illustrious museum.
Since its opening, Vitra has grown with the bodies of contemporary architectural portfolios by internationally hailed renowned masters: Tadao Ando, Zaha Hahid, Gunter Pfeifer, Alvara Siza, and Herzog de Mueron. The site has become a wonderful theme park for these distinctive architects to express their own interpretations of each program, such as conference hall, fire station, warehouse, home museum, and chair museum.
It is neither an easy location to reach nor a popular tourist destination; however, it is a required site to visit if one is near Basel. From there, it is a quick day trip and an inspiring educational field trip for almost anyone.
The latest establishment is Vitra's home museum, which focuses on the residential side of design. The building respects and is consistent with the rest of the other buildings. Its ambiguous shade, dark charcoal, hints at a universal representation of a house. Further, the minimally approached abstract shape of the building is a fantastic union with the A-framed houses that climb toward each other inside.
Finally, I arrived at one of my favorite galleries in the museum: the restaurant. It is always a treat to sit down and be able to have a wonderful regionally inspired organic dish after a vigorous walking tour. And, of course, I can't leave out the souvenir shopping part of my short field trip. The museum has a wonderfully curated shop where one can purchase a rare quilt throw, design books, Vitra's signature furniture, and more.