Skip to content
The Essence of Things: Design and The Art of Reduction

March 20 2010 - September 16 2012

Traveling Exhibition

Vitra Design Museum Installation view...

Vitra Design Museum
Installation view

Visit Vitra Design Museum

Exhibition Tour
April 27 – September 16, 2012 Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Germany
July 08 – October 16, 2011 Design Museum, Gent, Belgium
March 09 – June 02, 2011 Museum August Kestner, Hannover, Germany
March 20 - September 19, 2010 Vitra Design Museums, Weil am Rhein


The rationality of machine production inherently suggests a reduced formal vocabulary yet important impetus in this direction also came, and continues to come, from other areas such as Japanese aesthetics and the dialogue of design with abstract art.

For this exhibition, the museum served up many of its best objects as well as a number of surprising treasures and new acquisitions from its collection. Along with such indispensable classics as the first production model of Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily” club chair, Gerrit Rietveld’s “Roodblauwe Stoel”, a side chair from Donald Judd or Willy Guhl’s garden chair in fibre cement, the exhibition also featured a pivoting prototype of Eero Saarinen’s “Tulip Chair”, little known working models from the estate of Charles and Ray Eames or Mies van der Rohe’s “Brno Chair”. These were joined by high-calibre loans – such as a ca. 1800 folding cot from the Royal House of Hanover, a prototype of Heinz Witthoeft’s “Tail 13” armchair made from bent plastic or Mies van der Rohe’s “MR 150/3” table with a black glass top. With these and lot of more exhibits – ranging from a sushi roll to a peeler – the exhibition showed that a restriction to the essential accommodates, both functional conditions and artistic trends, and satisfies  economic and social needs as well as elite and purely aesthetic standards. It demonstrated the defining parameters and strategies of industrial design yet also described the exemplary function of solitaires for which high-quality materials have been meticulously crafted to render desired effects in the purest possible form. Despite all the rationalization of method and material, the concentration on functional essentials and the abstraction of shape up to the very disappearance of things, the principle of simplicity demonstrates its great complexity. In the clarification and concentration of things – to articulate one of the exhibition’s key messages – each individual detail is thus brought to the fore.

Site Index