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Design partners | School and office furniture

Guenther Behnisch

Create freedom through design

Guenter Behnisch (1922-2010) was responsible for a number of well-known architectural projects such as the Munich Olympic site and the Plenary Hall of the German Bundestag in Bonn. Many of his buildings were conceived with an open central communication point around which functional areas were grouped resulting unfailingly in a multifaceted and transparent structure. Early on Behnisch’s school buildings gave rise to points of contact with VS. With Hubertus Eilers, Guenter Behnisch designed a desk for Leybold AG in Alzenau that was then developed with VS into the Series 900 office furniture system. The table received an award at the Orgatec in Cologne in 1988.

Munich 1972

As a member of the Olympiapark group of architects, Günter Behnisch contributed to the design of the Olympia stadium in Munich 1972; the spectacular tent roof was Frei Otto’s.

School in Lorch

As one of the most distinguished schools architects in Germany, Günter Behnisch bucked the trend for massive integrated high schools – his are open, light and transparent. Schools in Lorch from 1973.

Series 900 (Behnisch and Eilers)

In collaboration with VS, the desk with its characteristic free-form top was expanded into the Series 900 – an office furniture system that is as elegant as its progenitor and as functional. In 2001 the administration workplaces at the new German Bundestag were fitted out with the Series 901.

Behnisch buildings for VS

On the occasion of their 100-year company anniversary in 1998, VS moved into their newly built, Günter Behnisch designed administration and exhibition building.

Stefan Behnisch

Building and designing to sustainable standards

After gaining his diploma in 1987, Stefan Behnisch (*1957) joined Behnish & Partner, the architects’ office headed by his father, Günter Behnisch, and in 1989 founded the city-center Stuttgart branch office that became independent in 1991, and operating since 2005 under the name Behnisch Architekten. Other offices opened in Los Angeles (1999-2011), Boston (2007) and Munich (2008). Under Stefan Behnisch’s leadership a number of ground-breaking projects have been carried out in Europe and the U.S.A. including the Institute for Forestry and Nature Research in Wageningen, NL, an E.U. pilot project for sustainable construction, and the Genzyme Center in Cambridge, MA, given the highest category for sustainable building by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Series 901

Stefan Behnisch continued as VS’s design partner to develop the Series 900 – expanded to form the Series 901, an integrated and high performance office furniture system that fits harmoniously and elegantly into very different kinds of space situations and office environments.

Norddeutsche Landesbank, Hannover

Sustainable energy concept: Through optimal use of natural conditions and resources such as the sun, wind and outdoor air it was possible to an extent to do without air-conditioning. VS furniture was used.

Genzyme, Cambridge/MA (USA)

From an ecological point of view the building designed for the bio-tech company Genzyme is exemplary – with natural ventilation and cooling and mostly natural light in the working areas. VS supplied the office furniture equipment.

Unilever, Hamburg

The Unileverhaus incorporates the principles of a holistic, sustainable building design. Everything centered on the use of resource-saving technology and absolutely fundamental to the project was the avoidance of high-tech solutions.

Hubertus Eilers

The intrinsic persuasiveness of good design

Architect Hubertus Eilers (*1957) was a member of the Behnisch & Partner office from 1986 till 1992 and following that he was Guenter Behnisch’s project partner. Since 1995, Eilers Architekten has had an office in Groeben near Potsdam. At Behnisch & Partner, from 1986 until 1988, Hubertus Eilers worked on Leybold AG’s new building. For this project, Günter Behnisch and Hubertus Eilers designed a desk with characteristic free-form top that was expanded with development partner VS into an integrated office furniture system. Hubertus Eilers has also been involved in the design of other VS furniture systems.

German Bundestag in Bonn

As a project architect at the Behnisch & Partner office, Hubertus Eilers worked on the new German Bundestag in Bonn. It earned praise from all sides – as a bright, light, transparent and contemporary new building.

Series 700

The Series 700 carcass furniture systems for shelving cupboards, cupboards and sideboards.

Series 2000

The free-standing, slender profiled Series 2000 privacy screen for intelligent space division.

Series Lounge

An upholstered furniture series that is easily combinable for communication and leisure areas for offices and schools.

Verner Panton

Free play with shapes and colors

Back in the 1960s and 1970s Verner Panton (1926-1998) was rewriting history with his designs. During his later years of creativity he was one of VS’s design partners. A number of significant chair designs came out of this close collaboration, where we see Panton’s enormously creative and variable interplay of color and shape. Chairs should restrict us and our desire to sit as little as possible. "A chair must be dynamic – you should be able to sit on it comfortably." Once again, Verner Panton and VS have together created a compelling seating program.

Verner Panton for VS

After 1993, during VS’s collaboration with Verner Panton, various families of chairs emerged with different seat shells and frames and all based on one principle: a deceptively simple one but with a strong and conspicuous identity.

PantoSwing

The cantilever rediscovered: The seat was inclined forwards – an ergonomic improvement.

PantoFour

Stackable, four-legged chair with linking system.

PantoMove

Height-adjustable swivel chair with 3D-tilt mechanism for dynamic sitting.

PantoStack

Light metal chair with linking system for use in large areas.

Neutra Furniture Collection by VS

Richard J. Neutra

His houses flooded with light, Neutra shaped the scene of Californian Modernism. From there he rose to be an architectural icon embodying the “International Style”. Today, Richard J. Neutra, who died in 1970, has long been seen as one of the great names in the history of modern architecture. This pioneer of Modernism can now be rediscovered as a furniture designer: The individual items or small series production developed by Neutra for clients commissioning his house designs are now through collaboration with Dion Neutra manufactured and sold exclusively by VS – in the Neutra Furniture Collection by VS.

Boomerang Chair

The Boomerang Chair from the Neutra Furniture Collection by VS has long been iconic: It was designed by Neutra in the 1940s in different versions as easy furniture.

Lovell Health House, Los Angeles 1929

Through the planning and construction of Lovell Health House, Neutra became known internationally. The house fits boldly into the green hills of Los Angeles and is also famous as the setting for numerous Hollywood productions such as L.A. Confidential.

Lovell Easy Chair / armchair and ottoman

Designed by Neutra for the Lovell Health House. The 1929 design is now being realized for the first time ever in the Neutra Furniture Collection by VS.

Alpha Seating / armchair and sofa

The chair and two or three-seater sofa of the Neutra Furniture Collection by VS are based on Neutra’s designs for Lovell Health House.

Cantilever Chair

The distinctive steel spring distinguishes Neutra’s design from other classic designs of the period. VS offers the cantilever now as the Cantilever Conference Chair, at normal conference chair seat height.

Camel Table

The idea for this combined dining and occasional table came to Neutra as he observed how a camel sits down – first going down on its knees. The legs of the Camel Table can be folded up to create a low occasional table.

Rebirth of modern classics

The chairs, cantilevers and dining and occasional tables in the Neutra Furniture Collection by VS.

Egon Eiermann

Architecture and furniture design

As one of the greats in German post-war architecture, Egon Eiermann (1904–1970) was a champion of functional aestheticism and constructional clarity. His most important buildings include the German Pavilion for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, the new Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin of 1961 and the 1969 Parliament high-rise building in Bonn. For Eiermann, furnishings were part of the overall architectural concept for a house. He designed furniture that had universal validity – in a clear design language.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin

Eiermann’s new building from 1961: This modern ensemble is an example of responsible and reflective handling of issues related to the Reconstruction of Germany.

German Pavilion, Brussels 1958

Continuity of modernism: a collaboration with Sep Ruf, the internationally renowned German Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Brussels.

Egon Eiermann Collection - by VS

Slender construction, clear lines and highly distinctive design – the furniture in the Egon Eiermann Collection by VS has been setting the standard since the 1950s and impressing viewers at world exhibitions as well as at the Museum of Modern Art.

Juergen Greubel

A declared belief in the clear line

After studying industrial design at the Wiesbaden University of Applied Sciences, Jürgen Greubel (*1938) was from 1967 until 1973 a member of the prestigious design department at Braun in Kronberg. With Dieter Rams he took a significant part in company design developments (cue “Snow White’s coffin”). In 1973 he moved to join the Design Research Unit London, and after 1976 Greubel was an independent designer for some hugely different product categories. For VS, Greubel’s contribution as design partner was his introduction of clear and concentrated lines to the development of office furniture systems.

Braun Design 1970

Braun MP50 Multipress: This juicer with its white areas highlights its high degree of functionality. Designed in 1970 by Dieter Rams and Jürgen Greubel.

Braun MPZ 22 Citrus Juicer

This was a pioneering design by Dieter Rams and Jürgen Greubel from 1972. The press of a button on the top to start the process, the juice flows directly into a container within a hollowed out area.

Hot-air paint remover

Jürgen Greubel for Steinel 1986: HF 2000 hot-air paint remover that for the first time ever made one-handed operation possible. The paint could be softened and stripped off in one single step. The design received a federal-state prize from North Rhine-Westphalia.

Axis 360°

The Axis 360° desk program was an innovative expansion and development concept.

NetWork

The VS NetWork table system was an intelligent design by Jürgen Greubel to meet the very many different requirements of an office.

Nicolai Fuhrmann

Seeing aesthetics as function

After his studies in industrial design at HBK, Braunschweig, and some professional experience in the design department at Volkswagen AG, Nicolai Fuhrmann (*1966) worked as a designer in a number of different European cities. His years with Jorge Pensi in Barcelona were especially rich; he focused there on interior design, lighting and consumer goods. Then followed experience at the Design Continuum in Milan and at Milani d+c in Zurich. Since 2003 Nicolai Fuhrmann has had his own studio, first in Zurich and then after 2004 in Cologne. As well as his work as a product designer, he has held teaching posts at different universities. Nicolai Fuhrmann has been design consultant for VS since 2006.

Fiji

The multi-purpose sun lounger for the Val-Eur outdoor furniture collection combines high-quality materials and traditional craftsmanship and practical functionality.

Ondea shell series

A design message that communicates in harmony with practical use: Since 2005, Nicolai Fuhrmann has been designing consumer goods for Blomus mostly from stainless steel.

Peter Brown

Designing school concepts architecturally

Architect and designer Peter Brown heads Peter Brown Architects, Dallas/USA, a design and strategy enterprise that has specialized for years in ideas and designs for schools and learning environments. Because of his great international experience, Peter Brown is a responsible concept partner when we need to translate schools and educational principles into forward-looking space solutions. Before starting his own company, Peter Brown led schools projects at the international architects’ office Perkins+Will/USA.

B1Chair

The idea behind this chair by Peter Brown: The B1Chair follows harmoniously every movement of the body – sitting is comfortable and ergonomic. The seat area and backrest are flexible; this opens up new possibilities for body and mind.

Perspective Charter School 2004

Planning of the school in Chicago by the architects’ office, Perkins+Will with Peter Brown. VS’s Panton series skid tables and chairs were used.

John Harding

Improve life with design

John Harding studied at the Arts Institute of Bournemouth and product design at Manchester Metropolitan University. Since 2001 he has been working as a free-lance designer and consultant. For John Harding, it is important that design is always combined with concrete, practical ideas to improve life for older, frailer people and make their everyday life easier. At present he is working with Kings College London on a walking aid for climbing steps for rehab patients. The design is being driven forward step by step with the help of a group of users. This is the kind of process that was employed in the design of the successful, dynamic Hokki stool; it continued until the shape was finalized and its physiological, emotional and cognitive strengths had been fully developed. The enthusiasm with which it was received was validation for all the intensive work: Putting it in simple terms, active sitting is fun for kids!

The desire for movement

Hokki does away with the old antagonism between sitting and moving around, for being seated on a Hokki involves playful freedom of mobility. A completely new way of sitting that makes you yearn for physiologically positive and free movement!

Laser clock

Designed by John Harding with Andrew Wootton, this clock is laser-cut in one uninterrupted process, and is part of a furniture series for 100% Design London.

Furniture to make everyday life easier

How can everyday life for people with dementia be made easier using intelligent design? John Harding has developed a carousel series with storage products, in part also combined with room dividers that can be used as and when required to separate off personal space in a care home.

David A. Stubbs II

Making a space usable for a variety of purposes

Architect David A. Stubbs II has had more than 20 years’ experience in planning and designing learning environments. His passion is to create sustainable improvement in schools. For him it is not just about the design, but rather, by using intelligent technology and flexible furniture his aim is to open up more freedom for teachers and pupils to find new ways of learning and to support by best possible means the entire spectrum of everyday life in the school of today. He has received important architectural awards for his designs. Shift+ is his first collaboration with VS.

Shift+

Shift+ elements are light and movable. They are no longer tied to a particular space; they are manoeuvrable across the whole building. With Shift+ even IT workstations and storage elements are highly mobile.

Base furniture for today’s schools

Shift+ elements allow users to discover new applications over and over again. The learning environment can be redesigned every day on an individual basis. Single and group tables can be used appropriately, with no fixed allocation.

Creating the learning environment yourself

With Shift+ pupils and the teacher can configure the space themselves without having to ask for help from outside. The classroom gains new perspectives – and thus many additional teaching opportunities. More about Shift+

Karl Nothelfer

Epoch-making school furniture developments

Even while he was studying architecture, Karl Nothhelfer (1900-1980) was drawing and doing water-colors. Color remained the defining element for him; he experimented with design media and new paint technology for furniture construction such as lacquers. In Paderborn he spent two years fitting out boats and working in interior design, in 1928 he went to Berlin to the building school for interior design. Nothhelfer soon turned his attention to seating. From 1950 and now working at the architects’ office on Lake Constance, Karl Nothhelfer got together with VS as a furniture designer; the result was the skid chair and skid table – a ground-breaking design principle that became exemplary in a wide range of areas. Also as an architect, Karl Nothhelfer was closely associated with VS in the design of their administration and production buildings.

Skid chair and skid table, from 1950

The skid chair frequently copied and manufactured in its millions was one of the most successful furniture designs of the post-war period.

Multi-purpose chair

In 1954 Karl Nothhelfer designed the slender and functional, stackable four-legged KN-38 for VS as flexible seating for school halls and other multi-purpose areas.

Tubular steel chair

Karl Nothhelfer’s skid chair of 1973 in an optimized version made from oval steel tube became standard in classrooms during the 1970s.

VS administration building

The new VS administration building planned by architect Karl Nothhelfer was completed in 1956; attached to it is a model school pavilion.

Production hall

1959: Beginning of the new VS factory building with shed roof construction designed by Karl Nothhelfer.

Bruno Paul

Reforming everyday life

After his studies at the School of Arts and Crafts in Dresden and Munich, the architect, furniture designer and caricaturist, Bruno Paul (1874-1968), was an illustrator for the magazines “Simplicissimus” and “Jugend” between 1896 and 1907. Together with other reformers in arts and crafts, such as Riemerschmid and Pankok, in 1897 he founded the Munich United Workshops for Art in Handicraft. As a representative and co-founder of Jugendstil, Bruno Paul was known for his designs for interiors and standardized furniture to be produced industrially. In 1907 he contributed to the founding of the German Werkbund His work as an architect began in 1908 with the “Haus Westend” in Berlin. He developed the first prefab house with a flat roof for the German Workshops in Dresden-Hellerau in 1924. In 1925, with the department store building, Macy’s in New York, Bruno Paul also achieved international fame.

World’s Fair Brussels 1910

For the Brussels World’s Fair, VS’s associate company, P. Johannes Müller, received a commission from the Prussian Ministry of Culture to set up a classroom in the education hall.

Model classroom

With VS, Bruno Paul designed a model art room for the World’s Fair in Brussels.

Simplicissimus

From February 1897 Bruno Paul worked for the satirical magazine “Simplicissimus”, founded in Munich in 1896, for which by 1906 he had produced around 500 caricatures.

German Werkbund

In 1907 Bruno Paul became one of the founder members of the German Werkbund. The aim was “the refinement of working life through the combined influence of art, industry and the craft trades”.

Richard Riemerschmid

Reform movement with aesthetic momentum

Richard Riemerschmid (1868-1957), studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and then worked in that city as an independent artist. Under the influence of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement for reform Riemerschmid worked on designs for furniture, wallpapers, fabrics and glass. In around 1900 he turned to architecture. He was a co-founder of the Munich United Workshops for Art in Handicraft set up in 1897 and in 1907 contributed to the establishment of the German Werkbund that he then chaired from 1920 to 1926.

Richard Riemerschmid was one of the most important representatives of German Jugendstil. As an interior decorator, furniture designer and architect he was a major influence on the home and living environment in 20th century Germany.

Model classroom for Dresden 1903

In collaboration with VS’s associate company, P. Johannes Müller, Richard Riemerschmid designed an integrated, light blue classroom with Rettig school benches for the Dresden Workshops exhibition.

School furniture

Classroom cupboard, wall-mounted blackboard, teacher’s desk and chair – VS school furniture designed by Richard Riemerschmid.

Classroom cupboard Brussels 1910

Richard Riemerschmid presented the handmade classroom cupboard in the model classroom at the Brussels World’s Fair.

Wilhelm Rettig

The most successful school bench in Germany

Architect Wilhelm Rettig (1845-1920) worked first of all in Heidelberg und Mannheim before becoming an assistant to Paul Wallot building the Reichstag in Berlin. Between 1890/91 Rettig was city master builder in Dresden after which he worked in Berlin once again. After 1888 he was contributing to the publication Blätter für Architektur und Kunsthandwerk [gazette for architecture and arts & crafts].

In 1895 Wilhelm Rettig presented his own design for a two-seater school bench and, patented under “Rettig-Bank”, it became the most successful type of German school bench ever. The heightened footrest made getting into and out of the bench much simpler. A tilt fitting meant that the bench could be tilted into the gangway to facilitate floor-cleaning. At first P. Johannes Müller, a predecessor company of VS, manufactured most of the Rettig benches; after 1898 they were produced directly at VS.

Rettig school bench

The lightly overlapping school table top and seat (known as “minus distance”) allowed for economy of space between benches.

Blätter für Architektur und Kunsthandwerk [gazette for architecture and arts & crafts]

After 1888 Wilhelm Rettig contributed to the Blätter für Architektur und Kunsthandwerk.

Dresden Market Hall

The Market Hall on Antonsplatz was the first city market hall in Dresden, designed by Wilhelm Rettig in collaboration with Theodor Fischer 1891 - 1893.

Berlin Reichstag

After 1884 Wilhelm Rettig worked as an assistant to Paul Wallot on the Reichstag building in Berlin.