Sustainability is approached from a truly holistic perspective at Vitra and recognised as a defining element of our company culture. It has grown in importance over the years and decades and been shaped by the values of the family-run company’s owners. These efforts include Vitra’s procurement of raw materials and the organisation of the supply chain, as well as the fact that teams already consider the end of a product’s life cycle during the design and manufacturing processes – with the goal of creating something that will last for generations.
Vitra’s ecological mission also includes operating its production, office and exhibition facilities with solar and hydropower, creating added cultural value for the public through the Vitra Campus, and offering staff a working environment that fosters their creativity, productivity and well-being. In order to implement sustainable and responsible practices in all of the company’s activities, the ‘Vitra and the Environment’ working group was formed back in 1986.
For Vitra, it is not only important who works at the company (44 nationalities, 40% women in leadership roles, a ratio of 3/5 women in Group Management), but also how it can support staff (such as with the company’s own daycare centre, subsidised cafeterias with healthy, regional meals, and e-bikes which can be used to commute between the locations at Weil am Rhein and Birsfelden). Respectful and responsible interaction with each other and in relation to the company and the environment are also specified in the written Code of Conduct, which covers the central aspects of ISO 26000 and which staff are made familiar with at regular training sessions. Vitra’s own standards also apply to its partners and suppliers, and these form the basis of cooperation along the supply and value chain. Compliance with the Code of Conduct is evaluated on an annual basis and supported by on-site audits.
Vitra’s headquarters are in Birsfelden, Switzerland. The company has production facilities in Weil am Rhein (Germany), Szombathely (Hungary) and a plant in Sugito (Japan) for the Asian market.
‘Vitra’s greatest contribution to sustainability is the creation of products that omit non-essential elements and last a long time. Our roots in modern design would allow nothing else.’
Nora Fehlbaum, Vitra CEO

Considering the complete life cycle

The end of a product’s life is always a sad occasion. To ensure that Vitra products remain in circulation for as long as possible, they are designed to make reutilisation easy. Repairs, take-back programmes and extended warranties promote preservation. And in Vitra Circle Stores, used Vitra products are repurchased, restored and returned to use.
‘We are always seeking optimal solutions and strive to continuously develop our products – not only in terms of their aesthetic form, but also with regard to materials. When we come across a new, more sustainable material that meets our quality criteria and upholds our rigorous tests, we execute suitable products in that material.’
Nora Fehlbaum, Vitra CEO

Cultural activities

Vitra engages in a multitude of cultural activities above and beyond its business operations. A substantial portion of revenues is invested in preserving the cultural heritage of design and architecture. Vitra supports various institutions around the globe. Regular beneficiaries include the Eames Foundation, which is devoted to preserving the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California, the Alvar Aalto Foundation in Finland, and the Barragan Foundation based in Switzerland.

The Vitra Design Museum, founded in 1989, is a major focus of the company’s cultural commitment. It is not a company museum, but an internationally renowned, independent institution dedicated to the research and presentation of design and architecture. The Vitra Design Museum organises exhibitions, workshops and guided architectural tours. Its holdings include one of the world’s largest collections of industrial furniture design, and it administers and maintains the estates of several major designers. It also produces publications on a broad spectrum of design and architectural topics. The diverse activities of the Vitra Design Museum have earned it worldwide respect as a model for private initiatives and independent institutions in the cultural sector.

Furthermore, the Vitra Campus is a place where design objects and architectural works are created and maintained, making topics of design, architecture and art accessible to the public. And the ongoing development of the Vitra Campus reveals the company’s long-term commitment to its location in Weil am Rhein.

Biodiversity on the Vitra Campus

Vitra has long advocated an ecological and responsible use of land. On the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, paved roads and building footprints are counterbalanced by unsealed surfaces and plantings. Large natural flower meadows stretch between the buildings, particularly in the northern part of the campus, establishing a link to the agricultural landscape and vineyards of the neighbouring Tüllinger Hill.

Vitra as an employer

Vitra devotes particular attention to work conditions and environments that are inspiring and therefore productive, and also strives to offer healthy and future-oriented employment relationships for all employees. Vitra is convinced that the best results are achieved through team work, collaborating with colleagues of diverse education or training, backgrounds and interests. The goal is to allow for differences, while emphasising the uniting characteristics. Vitra promotes life-long learning and advancement within the company, giving talented and motivated employees long-term perspectives. Interest and curiosity in the company’s cultural engagement is viewed as a foundation for Vitra’s corporate success. To promote identification with Project Vitra, employees can regularly take part in activities related to the themes of design and architecture.