A Collector's Collection: All About the Vitra Mini Chairs

A Collector's Collection: All About the Vitra Mini Chairs

Inspired by the actual collection of iconic chairs housed at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, Vitra mini chairs were created as a way of making the collection available to the public – not just through two-dimensional means, but through the tactile pleasure of meticulously handcrafted, three-dimensional models…

If you're like me, you adore designer chairs but would never be able to afford an collection of the full-sized originals for yourself. Thank goodness for Vitra's miniature chairs – small-scale, licensed reproductions that have been produced using the same specifications and materials as the originals. Collecting these (while still not an inexpensive endeavor), affords one the pleasure of owning exact replicas of their favorite pieces at a lower price and much smaller scale. This, for me, is a good thing – because even if I could afford them, I'd never have room for all of the chairs I covet!


Range Truly phenomenal in scope, the collection spans 188 years of fantastic furniture design –covering early pioneers like Thonet, Rietveld and Frank Lloyd Wright, modern masters such as Eames, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, contempory classics by Frank Gehry and Marcel Wanders, and new icons like the "vegetal" chair by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

Newly Released
1. Frank Lloyd Wright's Barrel Chair, 1904
2. Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West Chair, 1946
3. Arne Jacobsen's Swan Chair, 1956

Recently Retired
1. Andre Dubreuil's Spine, 1986
2. Frank Gehry's Rolf's Chair, 1990
3. Rene Herbst's Sandows Chair, 1928
4. Josef Hoffman's Cabaret Bat, 1905
5. Jasper Morrison's Thinking Man's Chair, 1986
6. Verner Panton's Wire Cone Chair, 1988
7. Robert Wilson's Parzival: A Chair with a Shadow, 1987
8. Frank Lloyd Wright's Peacock Chair, 1929
9. Frank Lloyd Wright's Midway Gardens Chair, 1913

Miniature Chairs – Geared towards the collector, this site claims to offer all of the chairs in Vitra's collection. It also provides information (shown above) on new releases, soon-to-be discontinued styles, and designer biographies.
Vitra – This site needs to be translated from German, but it is the official online store of the museum and features all mini chairs currently in production. The collection is searchable by period and contains extensive information on the design of each piece, as well as information on where to purchase full-size versions.
Hive Modern – Offers a fairly broad assortment of classic and contemporary chairs. According to the site, "Each of the delicate objects is made by hand; on average, each miniature requires five hours of careful manual work. Ongoing quality control ensures that every miniature corresponds to its larger original in terms of finishing, details and materials."
Unica Home – Carries an extensive collection of miniatures, but provides little information on the chairs themselves or their designers.
Design Within Reach – Offers a more limited assortment of chairs. Provides package information and designer biographies.
Ebay & Craigslist – Hit or miss options, but your best bet for building a quality collection without breaking the bank.

The Vitra Design Museum The inspiration behind it all, the museum is home to decades of drool-worthy design. And while this exhibit may appear similar to miniature displays seen elsewhere, it's actually a collection of full-size originals. Stunning!

DISPLAYING A COLLECTION A few ways mini chair collectors have chosen to display their prized possessions -

Mini-Inspiration: Vitra Museum's Miniature Chair Collection At Jules Seltzer Associates, on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angles, the Vitra collection sits on rows upon rows of glass shelving.
Modern Dining Room...with a Catch This collector used them (appropriately enough!) in her miniature modern house.
Look! Marguerite's Vitra Mini Chair Display An Apartment Therapy reader finds the perfect perch for her collection.
Collecting Miniatures: Vitra Mini Chairs Roger Schamay of Atelier Schamay has designed a Mondrian masterpiece to showcase his collection.
paola pivi: vitra mini chair chandelier An artist crafts a mass of mini chairs into a modern light fixture. (Love the shadows it casts!)

What would you do with a collection if you had one??

Images: 1-2. Miniature Chairs 3. Hive Modern 4. Design Within Reach 5. Vitra Design Museum 6-9. Apartment Therapy 10. Galerie Perrotin

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