VitraHaus Loft

A conversation with Sabine Marcelis

The work of Rotterdam-based international artist and designer Sabine Marcelis is celebrated globally for its distinct focus on materiality, with pure forms in a strong and confident colour palette. Renowned for her work at the intersection of art and design, Sabine has collaborated with the Vitra Design Museum in ‘Colour Rush!’ – a past exhibition in the Vitra Schaudepot where she organised iconic archive pieces by colour in 2022. Coinciding with Art Basel and Vitra’s annual campus celebration of design, she has been tasked with reimagining the VitraHaus Loft. This project draws on the Vitra catalogue, designs and artworks by friends and collaborators, employing a cascading colour scheme to inspire visitors to reimagine their own living spaces..
How did you approach the brief?

I approached it as if I were going to live in the space. My thought process was, ‘How would I design this space if I lived here?’ The philosophy behind the design closely mirrors how we created our own family home. It features a large open space divided into functional zones, blending my designs with those of friends, artists and others to create a cohesive whole. It was in this context that I chose a number of different Vitra products and customised several of them, particularly the Kado Office shelving system. We reimagined it to serve as both a wardrobe and a bed, providing a fresh take on these Vitra products.
How did you use colour in the space?

We’ve defined separate areas using colours that I intuitively selected. An individual base colour runs throughout each space, helping you discern where you are located [within the home environment]. The lounge is caramel, the kitchen rusty red, the living room green and the working space a very light yellow. This palette is a mixture of colours we often work with in the studio, such as for mirror elements or resin projects. We took some of our trademark studio colours and complemented them with additional hues to tie everything together, creating a warm vibe. However, we added pops of cooler shades like green and pink for contrast. But overall, the palette has a warm feel, which is important for a home.
Colour is an important factor in our chosen surroundings. Do you agree?

Conversation about colour is often centred around trends, like ‘the colour of 2024’. Following trends can be dangerous. The shades used in the VitraHaus Loft are personal favourites.
‘I like these colours and never tire of them, which makes them timeless for me. I think this attitude is important for anyone creating their own home.’
Sabine Marcelis
You’ve converted Jasper Morrison’s Soft Modular Sofa into a cosy lounge pit – can you tell us more about this?

The living room for me is like a lounge pit. I wanted to give it this homey vibe, ensuring it doesn’t feel too much like a showroom. We will also be projecting movies onto the walls to invite people to come and lounge around for a bit. The sofa system is generally used to create L shapes, and we’ve just merged it to form this enveloping pit. I think it’s so important to have a good lounge. It can really be fun – I have a lounge pit at home as well, and it’s the core of the house. It’s so good to just jump in there.
You also invited other artists and fellow designers to work on the project. Can you tell us something about it?

Artists such as Maria Pratts, Johnny Mae Hauser and Carlijn Jacobs (with whom I recently worked at FOAM Amsterdam) have created pieces that add another dimension to the project. I have this large curtain at home from one of my good friends, the Berlin-based artist Ehsan Morshed. He specialises in pattern design for fashion houses including Martine Rose and Diesel, using collage techniques to create cool and unexpected patterns. I asked him to design the bed sheets for the VitraHaus Loft. These customised pieces are now even available for purchase in the VitraHaus shop as limited editions. Bringing in other artists complements the furniture. The customised pieces and complementary artworks by friends and people whose work I appreciate add to the soul of the project. Many of these pieces, both in my own home and in the VitraHaus Loft, have a history, memory and meaning all of their own.
A limited edition of the Panton Chair Classic and the Visiona Stool by Danish designer Verner Panton has also been created. What is so special about these two classics?

Vitra has launched a limited edition of the Panton Chair Classic in a super high-gloss finish in exactly the same seven hues we used in the VitraHaus Loft. I’m excited about that. It's such an iconic chair and colour plays a crucial role in how you perceive it. Also, the low cylindrical Visiona Stool, a pouf designed by Verner Panton, has been available in seven limited-edition hues and in different covers: The selection ranges from furry to leather and everything in between, giving each piece a very distinct personality. Both products were offered for sale as part of the Art Basel week at VitraHaus and via, limited to 50 pieces per colour.

How did you manage to work with Vitra’s huge catalogue of furniture designs for this project?

When working with Vitra’s incredible catalogue, which covers many eras, trends and styles, I aimed to ensure the space didn’t become too busy or messy. The colour theming helps to create a sense of calm by using similar hues in different areas. As a team we went through the entire catalogue and also used some Artek pieces, trying to get a good combination of old, new, unexpected and iconic – just a bit of everything.

Publishing date: 27.05.2024
Images: © Vitra, Clemens Polocze