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Celebrating materials and hues: CasaVitra's colour extravaganza

The Colour & Material Library is the result of what is now a ten-year collaboration between Vitra and the Dutch designer Hella Jongerius in a project to examine the properties and possibilities of colours, textures, finishes and materials.   Reflecting the continuous refinement of the library system, the Colour Machine installation at the CasaVitra showcased colours, fabrics and materials in Vitra's portfolio. "A colour can change the impression created by a product by underscoring the material involved or by emphasizing a certain detail. I want Vitra products to not just be recognisable in terms of their shape but also with regard to their material and finish", states Hella Jongerius. In the CasaVitra store, visitors were able to discover huge spinning tops twirling on the floor and displaying the full range of Vitra's materials in four colour palettes – namely reds, lights, greens and darks – that form the basis of the company's library, which categorises textiles, leather, plastics and wood in every shape and size.  Nine colour wheels, formed out of the base of Prouvé's EM Table, the curvilinear seat of the Eames Plastic Chair and other parts taken from contemporary and classic furniture pieces by iconic Vitra designers, hung gaily from the ceiling, showing how colours are influenced by volume, shape and material and how these factors affect each other in turn. Indeed, the impression created by a colour is largely determined by whether it is on a large or small surface and has a glossy or matte finish. Visitors were able to wander through the installation and immerse themselves in the engaging polychromatic experience of a Vitra colour world in which they were encouraged to touch textiles, turn the colour wheels and take a close look at new materials presented on the spinning tops. Enabling the various hues to revolve in a dynamic interplay of colour worlds, the installation and brought materials to life while also mapping out the process of building the library.  As Jongerius stated: "My goal is to call attention to colour as an ever-changing entity. Questioning a colour’s appearance, our relationship to it and speculating about its nature is, in essence, a never-ending process. There are no mistakes in choosing colours, only variations of subjective expressions. A good colour library, though, can help make a decision".  Bas van Tol of the Dutch design office MüllerVanTol was responsible for both the concept and the design of the installation.

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