Sabine Marcelis dips the timeless collection of Vitra Schaudepot in vibrant colours

The perennial archives of Vitra Schaudepot drench in colour for the museum's annual presentation with Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis’ installation,Colour Rush!

by STIRworldPublished on : May 27, 2022

With an exceptional array of collections that vary from the iconic pieces of Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto to the latest prototypes of 3D-printed furniture, Vitra Schaudepot in Weil am Rhein, Germany, is almost like a time capsule for the design world. While the various celebrated buildings in the Vitra campus become stages for temporary exhibitions, the monolith red brick building designed by Herzog & de Meuron is home to the permanent exhibition that presents over 400 pieces of modern furniture design from the 1800s to the present. Every year for its annual presentation, Vitra Schaudepot reveals Vitra Design Museum's archival collection in a new outlook. Past showcases have witnessed design history arranged in chronological order of style, designers, and function. Rarely does one think about seeing an exhibit in a whole new perspective that is deviant of its time, creator, or concept. For this year's annual presentation, Vitra extended its illustrious invite to Rotterdam-based designer Sabine Marcelis who works within the fields of product, installation, and spatial design with a strong focus on materiality. Particularly noted for the way she incorporates hues and textures in her designs, Marcelis has inventively swept the museum's collection in a colourful affair.

Key visual for the installation with four of the exhibits  | Colour Rush | Sabine Marcelis | STIRworld
Key visual for the installation with four of the exhibits Image: © Vitra Design Museum, graphic design by Judith Brugger

"A homage to the role of colour in design across all periods and styles, the new annual presentation plunges the Vitra Schaudepot into a sea of colours, offering an almost physical experience. Visitors discover contrasts, tonalities, and intensities and learn to understand the added effect of material and surface,” states Vitra Design Museum in an official release.

Colour Rush! is curated as a tribute to colour and its symbolic power. The installation rearranged 400 pieces from the collection of the design museum in colours against a translucent background of different hues. Contrasting the classic order of museum presentations, Vitra’s approach to a polychromatic display of furniture creates an adventurous and immersive exhibition. The fascinating cross-references between periods and styles open up a portal to rethink the role that colours play in the design of interiors, fashion, and public spaces.

Over four hundred pieces from the museum archives are arranged on the basis of colour, against a translucent backdrop  | Colour Rush | Sabine Marcelis | STIRworld
Over four hundred pieces from the museum archives are arranged on the basis of colour, against a translucent backdrop Image: Mark Niedermann, © Vitra Design Museum

The presentation stirs a dialogue around how the choice of colour is central to a space and the discipline of furniture design. While the display illustrates the incredible effect of colours on design, it also brings to the attention its influence on human emotions, particularly in creating cultural, contextual, political, and religious identities. Throughout the exhibition, the physical experience of colour widens from furniture design into a self-inquiry of whether the colour, texture, and tone that one may choose, speak of their personality.

  • Dorothee Becker, Uten.Silo, 1971 | Colour Rush | Sabine Marcelis | STIRworld
    Dorothee Becker, Uten.Silo, 1971 Image: Andreas Sütterlin, © Vitra Design Museum
  • Pierre Paulin, No. 577 / Tongue, Osaka, 1963 | Colour Rush | Sabine Marcelis | STIRworld
    Pierre Paulin, No. 577 / Tongue, Osaka, 1963 Image: Jürgen Hans, © Vitra Design Museum
  • Amadou Fatoumata Ba, Pouf Tressé, 2014 | Colour Rush | Sabine Marcelis | STIRworld
    Amadou Fatoumata Ba, Pouf Tressé, 2014 Image: Andreas Sütterlin, © Vitra Design Museum
  • Gae Aulenti, No. 4794, 1968 | Colour Rush | Sabine Marcelis | STIRworld
    Gae Aulenti, No. 4794, 1968 Image: Jürgen Hans, © Vitra Design Museum

While the four hundred exhibits voice the history of modern furniture design, the exhibition also reveals key insights into how different designers in the past devised their own theories and systems around the use of colour. Various such documents add to the presentation, including Verner Panton’s sketches and notes showing how he worked on his colour system, sample books and design drawings offering fresh insights into the colour concepts of Alexander Girard, Hella Jongerius, and many others.

Sabine Marcelis at the exhibition Colour Rush! at Vitra Schaudepot  | Colour Rush | Sabine Marcelis | STIRworld
Sabine Marcelis at the exhibition Colour Rush! at Vitra Schaudepot Image: Mark Niedermann, © Vitra Design Museum

Along with the display of timeless pieces by Ettore Sottsass, Pierre Paulin, and Terje Ekstrøm, the installation also brings together Sabine Marcelis' creations that recently became a part of Vitra Schaudepot's permanent collection. Her Candy Cubes and Boa Pouf add to the flamboyant setting of the installation and include Marcelis in the history of Vitra. Though the flair of the Dutch designer speaks for itself, the examination of colour is central to her work. It is this sensibility of her practice that transformed the minimal steel racks of Vitra Schaudepot into a colourful cradle of modern and contemporary design. Adding to an arresting narrative of colours is the attention to exhibiting furniture as art rather than a mere display.

Colour Rush! will be on view at the Vitra Schaudepot in Weil am Rhein, Germany, till May 14, 2023.

(Text by Sunena V Maju, intern at STIRworld)

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