Super Normal Design transformed and upgraded a showroom in Shenzhen that displays Vitra’s products trying to figure out how to pay tribute to previous generations of design masters and how to tell the stories of the brand.
Net Office Furniture is a Shenzhen-based furniture supplier, which sells products of various well-known brands such as Vitra, Milliken, Boss, etc. Situated at Oct Loft, a cultural and creative park in Shenzhen, the 1,100 m2 old showroom had been put in use for several years and required adjustments, in order to bring brand new experiences to customers.
Vitra’s brand spirit is in line with the cultural and creative ambience of the site. Taking this as the starting point, the designers intended to create something different, with the space serving products whilst incorporating product concepts into the spatial design. Just like the long-lasting design of Vitra’s products, this space doesn’t chase fashion, but seeks for classic eternity and ingenuity.
Hanns-Peter Cohn, Vitra’s CEO, once said that Vitra sells not only design, but also long-lasting spirit and value.
The old exhibition hall was a closed space. In order to fit into the Vitra’s design spirit, the daylight was introduced into the space to produce a natural and comfortable ambience, indispensable for enhancing people's experience of the architectural space and products.
The design concept of the elevator hall pays tribute to the museum that Herzog & De Meuron designed for Vitra in Switzerland. The overall color palette of the hall is in stark contrast with the foyer. It is worth noting that the conventional sense of humbleness of the access control system has been abandoned, as the system is integrated into a small black "house" on the wall, which is quite unique.
If the elevator hall is a prologue, the foyer would be the beginning of the story. Here, chief designer Wang Chuangzhe wants to tell a story. The ample natural light brought in by the north-facing windows becomes the protagonist of the drama, which, however, must keep a low profile at the moment. Starting from the back of the fair-faced concrete wall, the light travels along the edges of this wall to the surrounding walls and ceilings, and eventually wraps the whole wall system.
Classics are constantly being renewed, by either the introduction of new environment or innovative design. The foyer is characterized by a fair-faced concrete wall and a piece of furniture from USM - a Swiss brand with a history of over 50 years, which is known for rationality, modularity, confidence and user friendliness. With infinite possibilities for configuration, the furniture is like a Lego toy, which can present variable forms.
Vitra's most iconic designs are showcased at the entrance. Among Vitra’s classic products, chairs are most representative. Design masters such as Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton, George Nelson and Sori Yanagi have worked with the brand and created plenty of masterpieces. The steps serve as a medium for product display, while also providing an event venue when necessary.
The visual highlight in the cabin-like meeting room is the large pendant lamp called "Mama Cloud", which was designed by Frank Gehry for Belux. Gehry is hailed as "Picasso in architecture" for his grotesque and novel design style. Many of the buildings and furniture he created feature a shape resembling crumpled paper. The great designer once said that when looking at the history of art we would find that almost all great paintings are relevant to folds.”
The corner between the office area and the exhibition hall reveals a group of "elephants", which seem to be playing together. Speaking of children's furniture, the Elephant Chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames for their daughter in 1954 is undoubtedly the brightest star.
The door buckles inherit the shape of Vitra’s best-selling product - Stool-tool. The furniture is an integration of chair and desk, which together render a step-like form and offers many combinations and options for seating.
The independent offices may not need a thorough transformation. At the time of re-imaging those offices, they had been put in use for more than a year and hence carried personalities and habits of the users. For this reason, it's necessary to preserve the memories of previous users while addressing the real problems that existed in the space, in order to create a more comfortable atmosphere, enhance daylighting and improve working efficiency. A good space is not merely reflected in cool design. More importantly, it needs to be user-oriented, i.e. taking user’s feelings into consideration.
Photo: You Hongxiang