VITRA TAKES MILAN Highlights of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2015

At the 2015 Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan last week, Vitra launched Belleville, a new family of chairs and tables, and new versions of the Mariposa sofa, the a new Polder sofa to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The stand was designed by Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects, Tokyo. As an internationally renowned architect and designer, he specializes in creating retail environments. The warehouse character of the Vitra stand highlighted the temporary character of a fair.


The Belleville family – the Belleville chair, the Belleville armchair and Belleville tables – is a new collection developed by Vitra in collaboration with the designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. Varied materials and muted colours characterize the remarkable hybrid chair and versatile tables. Through the harmonious coordination of their forms and materials, the chairs and tables can be attractively combined in a broad range of home interiors and establishments.

Belleville’s timeless design appeals to a variety styles and is equally at home in many different contexts from classical to contemporary. At the same time, the pieces evoke a sense of mystery and curiosity, since their materiality, construction and fabrication only become apparent at second glance.

Belleville is also the name of a Parisian neighborhood known for its vibrant and creative ambience and its bistros, bars and cafés. Here is also where the design studio of Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec is found.

• BELLEVILLE CHAIR & ARMCHAIR “Belleville needs high engineering – visually and physically the chair follows a strictly defined purpose and precise design,“ say Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. The Belleville chair is a technically sophisticated hybrid chair of two components – a structural frame in polyamide and a seat shell available in different materials. A slender black frame traces the calligraphic lines of the legs and back of the chair. The contour of the back of the Belleville side chair follows a continuous rounded trajectory. The curve of the Belleville armchair, which has forward slanting armrests, changes directions twice and then resumes its momentum. In both versions of the chair, the slender black frame supports an extremely thin shell that tapers from the wide seat surface into a narrow backrest.  

This type of construction opens up new perspectives for the materiality of the classic monobloc plastic chair. The surface of the seat shell is the defining characteristic of the Belleville chair’s identity – available in coloured polypropylene, molded plywood veneer, or with a leather or fabric cover. Depending on the seat shell, the perception of the Belleville chair changes from a polypropylene chair to a wooden one to an upholstered seat.

• BELLEVILLE TABLES Belleville tables reveal a similar capacity for transformation, featuring tabletops in laminate, wood or stone, along with elegantly arched legs of cast aluminum. Belleville tables are modelled on the typology of the classic bistro table. The slender legs flow in a continuous sweeping line from their splayed bottom along the central column to the table top. Forming star- or t-shaped bases, they can be arranged as graceful dining tables, single bistro tables or long cafeteria tables.

The colour and surface texture of the cast aluminum table legs, which have a black powdercoated finish, are nearly indistinguishable from the polyamide frame of the Belleville chair. And since the materials of the tabletops and seat shells are either identical or harmoniously coordinated, the tables and chairs form a unified yet diverse group – a hybrid family of furnishings whose materiality resists classification. The various materials and subdued colors are defining characteristics of the designs, yet they remain subordinate to the implicit familiarity of their forms. 


In collaboration with Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Vitra expands the Mariposa Sofa collection with new variations: the Mariposa love seat and the Mariposa two-seater with one continuous seat cushion; the three-seater version with two seat cushions; and the round ottoman in three different sizes. Together they form a versatile product group, offering solutions for a wide range of requirements in regard to size and spatial planning.

“A sofa is a platform for everyday life; people can read, watch TV, they eat on the sofa or work on their laptop in the evening – it is a platform for many different activities,” say Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who designed the first version of the Mariposa sofa in 2014. The Mariposa sofa owes its extraordinary comfort to its pleasantly soft upholstery and an ingenious adjustment mechanism, which makes it possible to individually adapt the side and backrest elements for various sitting or reclining positions. The sofa’s opening and closing wings are reflected in its name: Mariposa, the Spanish word for butterfly.

The MARIPOSA LOVE SEAT provides spacious seating for one person or – as the name suggests – a cosy spot for two love birds. The MARIPOSA TWO-SEATER Is an ideal choice for small, urban apartments, offering full comfort despite its compact dimensions. These two models come with one continuous seat cushion – in contrast to the larger 2 ½-seater and THREE-SEATER versions of Mariposa: fitted with two seat cushions, these sofas invite you to relax with a newspaper or to take a nap: the adjustable armrests function as a back or neck rest when a person is stretched out lengthwise. The range of sofas is complemented by ROUND OTTOMANS in three different sizes. They not only harmonize with the soft contours of the sofas, but create even more ways to enjoy Mariposa’s superb comfort. 


In 2005, Vitra first introduced the Polder sofa by Hella Jongerius. With its unusual shape and carefully crafted combination of colours, materials and textures, it made a mark on the typology of the contemporary sofa.

Now, 10 years later, the Polder sofa is being updated with two new versions – the POLDER SOFA and the POLDER COMPACT – to replace the original model. The refreshed Polder design brings new colour and materials as well as fresh details to the sofas. They feature textiles developed exclusively for Vitra by Hella Jongerius – fabrics that enhance the intensity and refinement of her combination of colours and textures.

Though the defining characteristics of the design have been retained, they now appear in novel variations. For the new Polder sofa as well as Polder compact, the Dutch designer keeps the flat body and cushions in variously coloured fabrics, which recall the origin of the product’s name: in Holland, the word “polder” refers to low-lying flatlands, typically subdivided into fields serving various agricultural purposes, that have been reclaimed from the sea by means of dykes and drainage canals.

The front edge, which used to extend across the entire length of the sofa, has been replaced on the new models by larger seat cushions and voluminous back cushions in two different heights. These form a comfortable seating landscape flanked on both sides by an upholstered body, whose shape distinguishes the Polder sofa from the Polder compact. A low armrest is integrated on one end of the Polder sofa, while the other is bordered by an adjoining platform that can serve as a storage surface for magazines, books or trays. The new Polder compact, by contrast, features a body with two armrests in different heights, which demarcate the smaller dimensions of this compact sofa.

Polder stays true to its origins as an unusual asymmetrical sofa: the new models can also be optionally configured with the higher armrest on the left or right side, making them adaptable to different spatial settings. Since the platform for the Polder sofa is now separately available, it can also be u
sed as an ottoman.

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