Design for longevity: Vitsoe 606 Universal Shelving System
The Vitsoe 606 Universal Shelving System was designed by Dieter Rams and first launched in 1960. The product has been in manufacture ever since.
For Dieter Rams the most important qualities when designing furniture systems were simplicity and reduction to a minimum. He wanted to design a shelving system which is hardly visible so that the books take pride of place. In his words 'Good design is as little design as possible'. The books take the key role and they create a comfortable environment, the shelves disappear behind them. Another key element is the function: the shelves can easily be maintained, changed and altered.
Dieter Rams designed longevity into his products and the Vitsoe 606 Universal Shelving System is arguably anti-fashion and anti-disposable furniture design. The design is durable and it is as sought after for its elegance and functionality today as it was 50 years ago. It looks startlingly modern.
The system has always been manufactured to a very high standard and the shelves do not sag or twist. The product ages well and those who buy Vistoe 606 look after it. There is a secondary market for the products and it is passed on from generation to generation. 'Good design is concerned with environment' is one of Dieter Ram's Ten Commandments on Design and the 606 certainly fulfils this requirement.
Vitsoe's original endeavour was quite utopian: the idea was to produce a more rational world by furnishing it with rational objects. The 606 is a design for life that is flexible, demountable, extendable and beyond fashion.
Sadly, over the last 50 years obsolescence has been designed into the majority of products. Very little is built to last. What is the role of design if not to confront this issue of built-in obsolescence, and design it out?
Information and image provided by www.dasprogramm.org . You can purchase and hire original Braun and Vitsoe products from Das Programm. Das Programm are planning an exhibition of Braun and Vitsoe products for spring 2012 in London.
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