完美經典背後的實驗家 The Endless Trials behind Perfection

「若然一件產品是完美的,那麼需要設計的念頭壓根不應該浮現。」
‘Way-it-should-be-ness. If an object is really well designed, the idea of it having been designed wouldn’t come up at all.’ - Charles Eames



設計本是解決問題的方案,Vitra對生產及設計只有精益求精,即使被稱作「經典」的設計在他們眼中也要根據現代生活作改變,並沒有絕對的完美。在1920年代,一張沒有四肢的椅子的確顛覆固有傢俬的型態,但缺乏嶄新物料,人們對木材或橡膠家具也逐漸失去了新鮮感。

Design is problem solving and “classic” design from the golden age should also be constantly improving based on the modern factors. Cantilever chairs successfully gained media attention in the 1920s, however its commercial value did not last for years. Nothing was a surprise, either wood or metal, people were soon bored.


為了尋找志同道合傢俱工廠,Panton帶著小模型從北歐遊走到一個自文藝復興時期起便擔任商貿及文化中心的德語區 - 瑞士的巴塞爾,才遇到了VITRA的創辦人Willi Fehlbaum及其兒子現董事Rolf Fehlbaum。於是,他們便開始無止境的實驗,幾十年來經歷過無數次失敗,直至90年才重新投入生產。

由 polyester到二戰時期發明的橡膠取代品polyurethane,雖則優雅但需要人手塗上保護層,相對昂貴。為了提高效率並完成「倒模」這個全新的生產模式,他們進行了成千上萬次的連續承壓測試,可惜到最後破碎不堪,安全起見只好叫停生產。直至近年,在顧及成本及使用安全下,Polypropylene成為了唯一令他們滿意的物料。至今Vitra仍然保留Polyurethane及Polypropylene兩種版本,留下一縷與老朋友共事的回憶。


Panton Chair is more of a trial of materials from wood to plastic than a continuation of Zig Zag Chair. To meet the right partner for a proper material experiment, Panton travelled from Scandinavia to Switzerland with a small model of his chair. None of the manufacturers showed an interest until he got to Basel - the german-speaking commercial and cultural capital of Switzerland since the Renaissance. Vitra’s father and son Willi & Rolf Fehlbaum became friends of Panton and they started the endless trials over the decades.

During WWII, Polyurethane quickly took over the place of rubber in manufacturing. It was relatively much more expensive as manual lacquer coating and finishes are required. Unfortunately, the chair got brittle after thousands of loading tests under single injection moulding - a brand new technique to increase productivity and cost-effectiveness at that time. The classic Polyurethane version were then discontinued in production for decades.

Panton Chair could only back to life when Polypropylene was invented in the 1990s and made the idea structurally possible in all kinds of operation, safety and functionality concerns. In order to keep the good old times with their good old friend Panton, Vitra reserves both the classic and modern versions today: the 1. elegant and thinner Polyurethane and 2. a lot more affordable Polypropylene.


對Vitra來說「家」沒有特定的範本風格,每一件設計都應該能輕鬆與其他設計結合,而每一個「家」都獨樹一格。在大家以為再也沒有「更好」的時候,Vitra 總會展現全新的面貌,讓人耳目一新。

── 是一個有著自己的設計園區,尊重原創追求更好質素,來自瑞士家族的歐洲傢俱生產商。

下一篇將訴說這個德國製造的瑞士傢俱品牌,與芬蘭製造的來自芬蘭的Artek之間的千絲萬縷。


“Home” is always unique, there are neither correct or exact answers. A piece of design should be versatile and flexible enough to get along with other pieces in the world. When the world is running out of “good” or “better” designs, Vitra is always the one who comes with unprecedented features that goes beyond your imagination.

── the Made-In-Europe Swiss-Family with their own design Campus, who respect the original and strive to be better to an infinite extent.

Next, we will dig deep to the linkage between the Swiss-family Vitra - made in Germany and Finnish design classic Artek made in Finland.

敬請期待 下篇 | Coming Next

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Text Credit: Establo Lifestyle