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Vitra Summit

22 - 23 October 2020

With the first Vitra Summit behind us, we would like to thank everyone who contributed: the speakers, the staff behind the scenes, and most of all the multitude of viewers who joined us from all over the world.

With more people than ever currently working from home, the very existence of the office as a workplace has been called into question this year. The past two days have been a unique opportunity to examine and reflect on the different ways in which the new normal impacts our lives – at home, in the office and on the go.

Under the guidance of specialist panels – including architects and designers, business executives, government officials, scholars, IT experts, journalists and even chefs and athletes – we discussed and examined how the new situation affects our living environments, our interactions with colleagues and our general well-being.

Participants

  • Anders Byriel, CEO, Kvadrat
  • Aric Chen, Curatorial Director, Design Miami
  • Asma Khan, Chef and Founder, Darjeeling Express
  • Avinash Rajagopal, Editor-in-Chief, Metropolis magazine
  • Beatrice Galilee, Executive Director, The World Around
  • Beatriz Colomina, Architecture Historian, Theorist and Curator
  • Cal Newport, Author and Computer Science Professor, Georgetown University
  • Christian Grosen Rasmussen, Chief Design Officer, Vitra
  • David Allemann, Co-Founder, On
  • Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby, Designers
  • Esther Perel, Psychotherapist & Host of Where Should We Begin? and How's Work?
  • Francis Kéré, Architect
  • Gianpiero Petriglieri, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, INSEAD
  • Götz Rehn, CEO, Alnatura
  • Hella Jongerius, Designer
  • Ilse Crawford, Designer
  • Ivy Ross, Vice President of Design for the Hardware organization, Google
  • Jan Boelen, Artistic Director, Atelier Luma
  • Jennifer Magnolfi Astill, Founder, Programmable Habitats
  • Jonathan Olivares, Designer
  • Joseph Grima, Founder, Space Caviar
  • Konstantin Grcic, Designer
  • Kyle Chayka, Writer
  • Mason Currey, Writer and Editor
  • Mateo Kries, Director, Vitra Design Museum
  • Matt Mullenweg , Co-Founder, WordPress; Founder and CEO, Automattic
  • Maurice Cox, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, City of Chicago
  • Monica Khemsurov, Co-founder, Sight Unseen
  • Natsai Audrey Chieza, Founder and CEO, Faber Futures
  • Nora Fehlbaum, CEO, Vitra
  • Pirjo Kiefer, Head of Interior Design Services, Vitra
  • Raphael Gielgen, Trendscout Future of Work, Vitra
  • Rémi Larrousse, Mentalist and Problem-Solving Wizard
  • Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman Emeritus, Vitra
  • Sevil Peach, Interior Architect and Founder, SevilPeach Architecture + Design
  • Sharon Johnston, Founding Partner, Johnston Marklee & Associates
  • Stefano Boeri, Architect and Urban Planner
  • Steph Cusack, Yoga Teacher
  • Stephan Hürlemann, Architect and Designer
  • Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko, CEO, Marimekko
  • Tim Reusch, Head of Interior Design Studio, Vitra
  • Virgil Abloh, Artist, Architect, Engineer, Creative Director and Fashion Designer


Click on the four themes to access more detailed information on the programme


Agenda

The human and the office - Day 1, Thursday 22 October, AM CEST

Zoom, Skype, Teams. In just a few months we have become experts at using diverse online platforms to see our colleagues, friends and families. But does this new meeting mode bring us the same satisfaction and outcome? Will we miss the office when it disappears? And how to redesign workplace interactions to include more digital interactions? These questions will be tackled during the first part of the Vitra Summit. This session includes conversations with renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel, interior architect Sevil Peach, INSEAD professor Gianpiero Petriglieri, and others.

09:30 – 11:00 - Will we miss the office if it disappears?
Is the office as we know it an endangered species? As the standard office seems to have become too dangerous and too expensive in Covid times, more and more alternatives are popping up. However, the main question remains: Will we miss the office if it disappears? Will the creation of new office concepts and products ensure its existence? And will this have an impact on our relationships at work? If so, where (and how) will we work in the future? Supposing that collaboration and exchange are still essential values, how can the future office adapt to survive?

Participants: Esther Perel, Gianpiero Petriglieri, Mateo Kries, Sevil Peach
11:00 – 12:00 - Redesigning workplace interactions
As the crisis persists, ways of interacting in the workplace have to be re-imagined. This implies a complete rethink of our work environments. Two experts present their research on how workplaces are evolving globally and what can be done to make them better, more productive places. How will workplaces evolve with the progress of digitization? How will office spaces have to adapt now that working from home has become commonplace? This session brings answers to some of these important questions.

Participant: Avinash Rajagopal, Cal Newport, Jennifer Magnolfi Astill, Mateo Kries
12:00 – 13:00 - Designing the Club Office
The office landscape has changed drastically over the past 150 years – from working in a patron's library to activity-based open spaces. Now the COVID-19 crisis has once again changed the demands on today's offices. What functions does an office have to fulfil? How must a space be designed in order to convey a sense of belonging and identification in times when we need to maintain physical distance?

Participants: Christian Grosen Rasmussen, Nora Fehlbaum, Pirjo Kiefer, Tim Reusch
13:00 – 14:00 - Well-being rituals for the home and the office
Rituals related to our well-being are an important part of every workday – we all require breaks to nurture our mental and physical health. In this session, London-based chef Asma Khan and internationally trained yoga teacher Steph Cusack deliver inspiration and practical advice. Asma and the all-female staff at her restaurant Darjeeling Express have earned Chef’s Table fame. She meets with the designer Ilse Crawford to prepare an easy lunch in the studio’s kitchen (recipes provided). Meanwhile, Steph – who also trains Nike staff to realise the potential of the mind-body connection – demonstrates exercises to awaken the body and mind. A well-balanced yoga session with heart-opening stretches and gentle twists, perfect to wake up and start the day.

Participant: Asma Khan, Steph Cusack
Download recipes

Design matters - Day 1, Thursday 22 October, PM, CEST

Is there such a thing as a good or bad material? Or only correct and incorrect use? What impact have past crises had on interiors throughout history? This session features a conversation with Christian Grosen Rasmussen, Chief Design Officer at Vitra, moderated by Jan Boelen, the Creative Director of Atelier Luma. Other participants will include industrial designer Konstantin Grcic, Faber Futures Founder Natsai Audrey Chieza, Princeton Professor Beatriz Colomina and freelance writer Kyle Chayka.

14:00 – 15:00 - Material matters
Materials are the core of design. As our environmental awareness evolves, so does our choice of materials when designing objects and interiors. Can design contribute to a responsible use of materials? Is it possible to make design more sustainable? Can we create, develop, produce and consume in alternative ways and protect the interests of the next generations? This panel looks at contemporary examples that are shaping an ecofriendly future.

Participants: Christian Grosen Rasmussen, Jan Boelen, Konstantin Grcic, Natsai Audrey Chieza
15:00 – 16:00 - A history of the impact of crises on interiors
In this session we question the impact of crises on interiors. Two leading figures give us an historic retrospective on how life-changing events influenced our way of designing interiors. Historian Beatriz Colomina presents her research on how tuberculosis had an impact on architecture and spaces and was at the source of the modern movement. Art and design critic Kyle Chayka, who specialises in minimalism, looks into further details at how the Coronavirus crisis has had an impact on architecture and speaks with a number of leading voices in the field.

Participants: Beatriz Colomina, Götz Rehn, Kyle Chayka, Mateo Kries
16:00 – 16:30 - The cantilever chair: a historical review & world premiere of a new design by Jasper Morrison
Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman Emeritus of Vitra, and Mateo Kries, Director of the Vitra Design Museum, will offer historical insights into this chair typology and also discuss the innovation potential of cantilever seating.

Participants: Mateo Kries, Rolf Fehlbaum
16:30 – 17:00 - Aesthetics after 2020?
How will aesthetics be impacted by the social and environmental developments of 2020? The speakers of the Vitra Summit, respond to one question.

Dynamic spaces - Day 2, Friday, 23 October, AM, CEST

The past few months have proven that office environments with a flexible design and a philosophy of change have a clear advantage: they can easily be adapted to changing health considerations and work patterns. At the same time, new functions have been added to our domestic spaces. This session will include conversations with Sharon Johnston, founding partner of the LA-based architecture practice Johnston Marklee, David Allemann, co-founder of the global shoe brand On, Nora Fehlbaum, CEO of Vitra, Ilse Crawford founder of Studioilse, Aric Chen, Curatorial Director at Design Miami and many others.

09:30 – 11:00 - New dynamics in the home
For most of us, our home has been the backdrop of our personal experience with the coronavirus pandemic and will forever be connected with it in our memories. It is therefore likely that our understanding of the function and meaning of our residential environment will have changed as a result. With more people than ever now working from home, this conversation examines how our domestic spaces now need to be reconceived as multi-purpose zones. The home office is not the only driver of this change: new technologies, changing family models and constantly evolving domestic ideals will also have to be taken into consideration.

Participants: Aric Chen, Ilse Crawford, Ivy Ross, Mateo Kries, Virgil Abloh
11:00 – 12:30 - New dynamics in the office
2020 proved the advantages of workspaces that have integrated flexibility into their design. A highly agile, modular office layout can adapt to the requirements of everchanging health considerations, teams and work patterns. Having all the options available at all times, however, gives a space a sense of impermanence and an ’unfinished‘ presence. The workspace is the home of the company – in many cases the only physical representation of its identity. How can the office of today and tomorrow provide the flexibility required to accommodate perpetual changes and at the same time provide a sense of permanence and belonging, making its inhabitants feel safe and ’at home‘ when they return to work?

Participants: David Allemann, Nora Fehlbaum, Sharon Johnston, Stephan Hürlemann
12:30 – 13:30 - Well-being rituals for the home and the office
Rituals related to our well-being are an important part of every workday – we all require breaks to nurture our mental and physical health. In this session, London-based chef Asma Khan and internationally trained yoga teacher Steph Cusack deliver inspiration and practical advice. Asma and the all-female staff at her restaurant Darjeeling Express have earned Chef’s Table fame. She meets with the designer Ilse Crawford to prepare an easy lunch in the studio’s kitchen (recipes provided). Meanwhile, Steph – who also trains Nike staff to realise the potential of the mind-body connection – demonstrates exercises to awaken the body and mind. A well-balanced yoga session with heart-opening stretches and gentle twists, perfect to wake up and start the day.

Participant: Asma Khan, Steph Cusack
Download recipes

Remote world - Day 2, Friday, 23 October, PM, CEST

We have come to expect a lot from our homes over the past months. As we retreated into these safe havens, they had to function as our office and school, playground and gym, restaurant and cinema. We will continue to spend more time at home: some level of remote working is here to stay, at least for the time being. Will our freedom to work remotely result in an urban exodus? In this part of the programme we are investigating the new work-life balance and the impact of remote working on cities, companies and homes, with guests such as New-York-based curator and critic Beatrice Galilee, Creative Director of Design Academy Eindhoven Joseph Grima, architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri and others.

13:30 – 14:00 - Successful video-conferencing. Tips from a mentalist.
In this session, mentalist and consultant Rémi Larrousse explores the new rules of interaction during video conferences. He offers tips and tricks for mastering the art of paying attention to others and leading successful and productive online meetings, and also explains what our faces reveal during virtual meetings with the camera on.

Participant: Rémi Larrousse
14:00 – 15:00 - Remote at work
Over the last two decades, as high-quality long-distance communications became cheap and ubiquitous, the office’s status as the default place of work was increasingly called into question. Then it became downright dangerous. As the pandemic drags on, many are asking whether the blow inflicted by COVID-19 to the idea of working together in close proximity will prove fatal to the conventional office, and many have been quick to hail the arrival of a new era of remote working, in which we will no longer need to choose between work, friends and family. Yet the rise of working from home – or elsewhere – comes with downsides: the more common it becomes, the greater the risk of being expected to remain in permanent office mode. On top of that, humans are social creatures and love to work together. What do we stand to gain and lose – if anything – from the death of the office and the coming ‘golden age’ of remote working?

Participants: Mason Currey, Matt Mullenweg, Nora Fehlbaum
15:00 – 16:00 – The home as a hub
All around the world, urban planners are scrambling to seize the moment. The need to adapt cities to new ways of working, living and socialising is clear, yet the form of the post-Covid-19 city remains elusive. Is the office truly a thing of the past, replaced by the home as a versatile, adaptive hub? Will our freedom to work remotely result in a return to rurality, or will our cities simply look more like the countryside? Will urban life feel more like village life, as the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has suggested with her proposal for a ‘15-minute city’? This panel will consider whether a public health emergency can actually change cities for the better, giving a new generation of urban strategists the opportunity they may have been awaiting for decades.

Participants: Beatrice Galilee, Joseph Grima, Maurice Cox, Stefano Boeri
16:00 – 17:00 – Replay: Will we miss the office if it disappears?
Is the office as we know it an endangered species? As the standard office seems to have become too dangerous and too expensive in Covid times, more and more alternatives are popping up. However, the main question remains: Will we miss the office if it disappears? Will the creation of new office concepts and products ensure its existence? And will this have an impact on our relationships at work? If so, where (and how) will we work in the future? Supposing that collaboration and exchange are still essential values, how can the future office adapt to survive?

Participants: Esther Perel, Gianpiero Petriglieri, Mateo Kries, Sevil Peach
17:00 – 17:30 – Where to work better?
Where to work better ? The speakers of the Vitra Summit, respond to one question.

Related Topics

Which topics impact office environments, communal spaces or the home, and which processes will influence the future of work? In a series of newspapers dedicated to the world of work and current global topics, we invite designers, architects and industry experts to address these themes.

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