Ampelphase at the Vitra showroom in Frankfurt: For baurmann.dürr desire signifies view and security - that they have translated in the room. Photo © Vitra
100 seconds for longing
by Martina Metzner
Sep 20, 2015

It takes a full 100 seconds for the traffic light outside the Vitra Showroom in Frankfurt to switch from red to green. During this ‘traffic light phase,’ or “Ampelphase,” every day 40,000 stationary drivers can view the interior design ideas in the long storefront window of the famed furniture makers from Weil am Rhein. Not these days however. For every other year since 2007 Vitra has commissioned architects to design the expansive window display: “Ampelphase” is a fitting name for the exhibition. This year six architecture studios were invited to create installations on the topic of “longing.” The results are worth seeing, sometimes taking an extremely structural take on the subject.

Architects Henning Baurmann and Martin Dürr, for example, explain that for them longing has to do with “views and a feeling of security” and made a staircase with a gallery out of plywood. The staircase affords a wonderful view and creates a safe haven in the space created underneath it, comment the architects. In contrast, the installation “Head in the Clouds” deliberately seeks to “limit the view”: A lampshade into which visitors can stick their heads is intended to enable them to be alone with themselves and their longings. Of course, the drivers waiting at the lights have no part in it. The space-consuming structure by BGF+ Architekten that is held together by red cord is a wishing tree of sorts, whose fruits are storage tubes for blueprints into which you can place handwritten letters full of longings. The wishes in paper form, set to hang from the Vitra Showroom ceiling until October 7, will then be burned and a real tree planted on the ash, promises Uwe Bordt from BGF+.

It is both charming and challenging that next to the installation by BGF+ Architekten we find of all things the biblical allegory of Adam and Eve, complete with apple and snake, all balancing in the form of an oversized mobile. After all, Adam and Eve have a higher profile than Tarzan and Jane. Elmar Lixenfeld, who supported Julian Andreas Schoyrer of Syra Schoyerer Architekten for this piece, defines it as a modern redesign of the original couple made by God’s hand, who are banished from Paradise, the place of longing. This mobile as well as the illuminated white box by Schmucker und Partner containing a female mannequin whose outlines can be vaguely discerned through the fabric will no doubt particularly attract the eye of waiting drivers.

Ampelphase 7: Sehnsucht
Vitra Showroom
Gutleutstrasse 89, 60329 Frankfurt/Main
September 17 to October 7, 2015
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.

BGF+ Architekten put the desire in rolls. Photo © Vitra
Adam and Eve by Syra_Schoyerer Architekten in cooperation with Elmar Lixenfeld. Photo © Vitra
Plans from iconic architecture on paper symbolize this year topic of the Ampelphase at the Vitra Showroom: "Desire". Photo © Vitra
You have to be alone with your desire, think MOW Architekten. Photo © Vitra
BernjusGisbertzSzajak want to give the feeling of a pleasure garden. Photo © Vitra
BernjusGisbertzSzajak want to give the feeling of a pleasure garden in baroque period. Photo © Vitra