Opening of the Vitra London showroom in Tramshed

Vitra unveils new London home in the Tramshed, Shoreditch

London Design Festival 2022: after a year of renovation, Vitra opens the doors of its new showroom in the heart of Shoreditch

To coincide with the London Design Festival 2022 (September 17-25), Vitra unveils its new London showroom, complete with a refurbishment of the grade II listed Tramshed. The building was originally designed in 1905 by Emmanuel Vincent Harris and served as an electrical transformer station for the East London Tram.

The main entrance to the showroom on Rivington Street

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, have respectfully restored the space to put in value of its original characteristics. The building, Weber explains, was designed in a classic mannerist style, with a rough-brick facade introducing a double-height lobby 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 neighbors – as well as reissues of design legends and pieces from Artek.

“We approached the project with immense respect,” says Weber, “because it is a pleasure and a privilege to maintain historic buildings and their precious details and rare materials, preserving what is possible, revealing and showing the traces of time instead of covering them up.’ Throughout the space, original features have been kept as close to the original as possible, removing unnecessary elements left over from previous renovations and celebrating the building’s patina.

The end result, notes Weber, is “a reaction to space”, showing how the colorful and modern forms of Vitra’s furniture and objects can interact with a historic environment, old and new enriching each other.

Vitra London Showroom: an eclectic harmony of spaces

Works by Erwan Bouroullec for The Wrong Shop behind the new Abalon sofas by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, launching in spring 2023 and previewed in space for the first time

The structure of the showroom offers a sense of discovery: the large hall space (the center of what is dubbed “The Club”) is interrupted by a silver curtain at its center, creating a secluded, dividing oval space the front area from the back.

To one side, a terrazzo bar (“a common centerpiece,” Weber comments) helps enliven the space, while the opposite side aisle features a showcase of office furniture catering to a wide range of needs – from meetings to workshops to concentration work.

Upstairs, a mezzanine is treated as an aesthetically calming retreat and, as Weber notes, an opportunity to “show off a collage of the Vitra approach to home interiors.” Plants, accessories and works of art (including a new corpus by Erwan Bouroullec for The Wrong Shop) complete the interiors.

On the ground floor, the basement of the building has been transformed to create “The Gallery”, an industrial white box which will be used for exhibitions – and which debuts with a presentation of the classics of Jean Prouve in a new color pallet. Another event and hospitality space (“The Loft”) at the rear of the building will open in 2023.

The opposite aisle presents a showcase of office furniture meeting various needs. The chairs are ‘Fauteuil Direction Pivotant’ by Jean Prouvé (the reissue of a 1951 design), while the shelving system is ‘Kaari’ by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Artek

“We had to find an interior language compatible with the impressive industrial architecture of the Tramshed”, explains Weber. The color scheme chosen for the main space – based on white, dark red and green – echoes the existing architectural colors of the building. “By carefully arranging the furniture selection, we aimed for a new interaction between the existing colors and materials of the historic building and the new elements and furniture from Vitra and Artek.

“This space is an opportunity for us to play, and it offers all of that: we can do a museum-style installation, we can showcase new pieces, and we can offer different ways of looking at focused, communal work. This shows that Vitra can do transverse spaces well. §

The gallery in the basement of the building is devoted to an exhibition of creations by Jean Prouvé reissued by Vitra. The exhibition includes the Kangaroo Armchair (1948, center front row) a newly reissued limited edition of 100 pieces

The showroom’s material and textile library at the back, currently showcasing the palettes that characterize the interiors of the space

The mezzanine, designed as an aesthetically soothing retreat and featuring chairs and shelves by Jean Prouvé, the Polder sofa by Hella Jongerius, the Armchair de Salon by Jean Prouvé (1939) and pieces by Artek including the Tea Trolley 900 by Alvar Aalto (1930). Lighting includes an Akari lamp by Isamu Noguchi (1951) suspended above the space

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