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Vitra Miniatures Gartenstuhl, Schinkel: Industrialization, with its new manufacturing techniques and materials began to supplant the traditional turner’s and woodcarver’s crafts in furniture-making. Long before Michael Thonet’s first experiments with bent wood the use of iron had led to important innovations in this field.
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Vitra Miniatures Gartenstuhl, Schinkel: Industrialization, with its new manufacturing techniques and materials began to supplant the traditional turner’s and woodcarver’s crafts in furniture-making. Long before Michael Thonet’s first experiments with bent wood the use of iron had led to important innovations in this field. As early as 1736 an armaments manufacturer established by tsar Peter the Great started to produce large quantities of furniture made of cast iron. Karl Friedrich Schinkel, a Prussian master builder, also used the cast iron process to rationalize furniture production. It was Schinkel’s architectural work in particular which earned him the reputation of one of the major exponents of German »classicism«, but his work as a furniture designer was also of great significance. His elegant interpretations of the »classics« produced designs of formal austerity for all kinds of different purposes. Schinkel’s designs included not only wooden furniture but also, at the beginning of the 19th century, large numbers of iron trestle tables, garden furniture and other items of furniture.
The collection of the Vitra Design Museum en miniature: The Miniatures Collection of the Vitra Design Museum covers the most important pieces from the international history of design from 1850 up to the present. The construction, materials and colours of the miniatures correspond precisely to the historical original. Extensive development work was carried out to adapt the manufacturing techniques to the requirements of miniaturization. Because they are so true to the originals, the miniatures are not only collector’s objects for furniture enthusiasts, but also serve as ideal illustrative material for universities and design schools. At present, the collection encompasses 80 models on a 1:6 scale with further pieces being continually added. The models come in their own wooden box and are accompanied by a descriptive brochure with details on the design. Net proceeds from the sale of the miniatures go towards the exhibitions and workshops of Vitra Design Museum.
Miniaturization means concentration: Vitra Design Museum faithfully replicates furniture design classics in miniaturized three-dimensional form. Many of these designs, like the chaise longue by Le Corbusier or the red-blue chair by Gerrit Rietveld, are as widely known today as the most celebrated works of art and are coveted by museums and collectors the world over. These miniatures illustrate at a glance what design means and what role it plays in the industrial production process. The clear and concentrated world of the miniatures yields a fascinating reflection of the stylistic diversity of contemporary design and provides a unique way of accessing the history of furniture design.
The manufacture of the miniatures: Vitra Design Museum has one of the most renowned collections of industrial furniture design – from the infancy of industrial mass production in the mid-19th century through the designs of functionalistic Modernism up to the postmodern furniture objects of the present day. With its many exhibits, the collection provides us with an ideal base for developing new furniture miniatures. Model builders measure the historical original in the museum collection, scale this down to one sixth of the original size and compile technical documentation. Subsequently, materials and manufacturing techniques are tested over a period of several months: the shapes are formed, materials and processes are selected, art historical research on the objects is conducted and then the production sequences are defined.