Lightopia at the Vitra Design Museum

Stylesight flew to the heart of Europe this week for a breath of crispy mountain air, and managed to squeeze in a visit to the Lightopia exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum.

It had been a while since our last visit, so it was nice to see how quickly and beautifully the campus is developing. We started off at Gehry’s building, where the museum gallery is now located, and explored the current Lightopia show.

Centered on how light has shaped the contemporary world, the exhibition comprises three main areas of focus. It begins with an overview of light’s omnipresence in our everyday lives—from the light bulb invention to the digital revolution of LEDS and OLEDS—and our growing dependance on light.

The second area is dedicated to iconic lighting pieces of the 20th Century, presenting how designs have been shaped and adapted through the decades because of technological innovations and global social change.

Lastly, on the upper floor, the future of light takes center stage, with the most innovative and avant-garde projects that explore the relationships between light and perception of color, movement and space. Some pieces were already well known and it was a pleasure to find them again in the Vitra Museum context, such as the Chromosaturation installation by Carlos Cruz-Diez, and the work of London-based Poetic Lab. Although a modest exhibition, it manages to provide a great overview of the present and potential impact of light on many aspects of our lives—and it is predictably finely curated.

On the way to the main building there is also a small retrospective on Japanese designer, Shiro Kuramata called “Design as Poetry”, celebrating his brilliant creativity and—at times surreal—aesthetic.

The always stunning Vitra Haus by Herzog & De Meuron then welcomed us with the recently-installed Christmas rooms. Stunning displays are set up, rich with inspiration, from woodland creatures to exotic and glamorous ambiances, as we wandered around, compiling our ever-growing wishlist with sparkling eyes.

The curators skilfully mixed current and commercial pieces with classic items like Alexander Girard’s dolls and textiles, or a clock design by Charles & Ray Eames, creating environments that are equally welcoming and refreshing— even the office system display had a cozy feel.

It was a dreamlike experience, and no matter how many times we return, or how well we know Vitra’s catalog, we always leave amazed, recharged and inspired. Just in time for the winter festivities…

Lightopia runs through March 16, 2014, while Kuramata’s Design as Poetry will end on December 12, 2014. – Gemma Riberti

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