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Vitra pushing boundaries of design discipline

Buoyed by its opening in Singapore, the company plans to open more stores in the region.

Vitra CEO Nora Fehlbaum says: "Our work is based on the conviction that everyday life holds great potential for inspiration and aesthetic enjoyment, and that design can discover and develop this potential."

SWISS family-owned design company, Vitra has seen an enthusiastic response since opening its store in Singapore, its first outlet in South-east Asia. "Our customers and fans have finally found a place to experience our collection of classic and contemporary design pieces," says Vitra CEO Nora Fehlbaum in an interview with The Business Times.

"The architecture and design community will develop projects, both in the office and residential fields, in our store. For end consumers, it is a place where they can learn about our heritage and the value of the authentic product."

Buoyed by its opening in Singapore, Vitra is planning to open more stores in the region this year, in cities such as Beijing as well as in key Southeast Asia markets such as Malaysia and the Philippines.

"In recent years, we have experienced growing interest in the mission of Vitra from our client base in Asia, which has encouraged us to take the next step in this part of the world," says Ms Fehlbaum.

"When we held the exhibition Project Vitra at the National Design Centre in Singapore last year, the positive response led us to find a partner, W Atelier, and together we created a permanent home for Vitra in Singapore.

"The store introduces our collection of furniture classics by designers such as Jean Prouvé and Verner Panton as well as contemporary designs by such figures as Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Hella Jongerius, Jasper Morrison and Konstantin Grcic."

She says creating innovative products and concepts with great designers is Vitra's essence. They are developed in Switzerland and installed worldwide by architects, companies and private users to build inspirational spaces for living, working as well as public areas.

"With its classics, Vitra represents groundbreaking 20th century design. Today, in combining technical and conceptual expertise with the creativity of contemporary designers, Vitra seeks to continue pushing the boundaries of the design discipline.

"A family business for 80 years, Vitra believes in lasting relationships with customers, employees and designers, durable products, sustainable growth and the power of good design."

The Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, with buildings by some of the world's leading architects and the Vitra Design Museum, with its exhibitions on design and architecture, design archives and a comprehensiv`e furniture collection are all part of Vitra. They inspire visitors, inform the design process and create an atmosphere in which innovation flourishes, she adds.

In Singapore, Vitra's products were installed at Changi Airport's Terminal 4 which opened in 2017. It is at the colourful waiting areas influenced by local art and culture that Vitra installed 4,500 seating units from its Airline and Meda Gate waiting area ranges.

"More than 65 million passengers passed through Changi Airport in 2018, and the number of visitors continues to rise. In order to sustain this development, the operating company is investing heavily in the maintenance and expansion of the hub's high quality infrastructure.

"Our products respond to this need for longevity and quality. We are proud to contribute to the success of this international airport, regularly ranked as one of the best in the world," says Ms Fehlbaum.

She says that as a Swiss family-owned company, Vitra is dedicated to improving the quality of homes, offices and public spaces through the power of good design.

"We therefore take great pride in the fact that our products can be found in cultural institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London; in companies such as the Fendi Headquarters in Rome and the Amorepacific headquarters in Seoul; in research hubs such as the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore or in large public infrastructure projects such as Dubai International Airport; and of course in private homes of design and interior aficionados around the world."

Vitra products are designed, developed and tested in Switzerland in collaboration with world renowned designers. The furniture is manufactured in Europe. This is the only way to ensure that Vitra products fulfil the high standards of the brand name, from the smallest details to the production methods, she adds.

The company was founded by Willi and Erika Fehlbaum in the 1930s, and after they retired, Ms Fehlbaum's father and uncle led the company, internationalising it and founding its cultural mission with the Vitra Design Museum on the Vitra campus in southern Germany which draws 400,000 visitors every year.

"In 2016, I became CEO and since then my team and I have been able to position our brand in the market with collaborations such as the most recent exhibition and collection with Virgil Abloh," says Ms Fehlbaum.

"During the past few years we have also pursued the development and expansion of the Vitra Accessories Collection and the worldwide launch of Vitra's online shops. Our work is based on the conviction that everyday life holds great potential for inspiration and aesthetic enjoyment, and that design can discover and develop this potential."

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