On exhibit: Vitra’s scaled-down classics

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Mies Van Der Rohe's much copied Barcelona chair
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Jens Risom's chair # 654
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The exhibit at the Goethe Institute

A tour of miniature chairs from the Vitra Design Museum has landed in Toronto.

Situated on the 25th floor of a Toronto highrise, the exhibition space affords a sweeping view of the city skyline as well as an equally far-reaching view through design history. Hosted by the Goethe Institute and the German Consulate General in Toronto, “Dimensions of Design” features mini reproductions of 100 of the most classical seats from the late 1800s to about 1990. Each is individually presented on identical tapered white pedestals capped by glass covers that wind throughout the room in a chronological order. Accompanying the chairs on display are 40 different posters presenting the timeline of industrial chair production.

The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, which has one of the most important collections of modern furniture design, has been manufacturing 1:6 scale versions of these iconic pieces since 1992. Each carefully crafted reproduction is true to the original, replicating it in workmanship, detail and material; the miniatures have even become sought-after collectors’ articles in their own right.

Beginning with easily mass-produced curved wooden furniture like Michael Thonet’s bentwood bistro chair No. 14, the retrospective includes work by Gerrit Rietveld, Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer, and Jean Prouvé. All the usual suspects are here, like Hans J. Wegner’ 3-benet Skalstol and Verner Panton’s eponymous chair; as well as rarer models, like Joe Colombo’s stackable Universale and Gaetano Pesce’s Pop Art inspired Donna.

The exhibition is on display at the German Consulate General in Toronto, 2 Bloor Street East until March 9.

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