Masterpieces of Furniture Design to be Showcased by M7

In partnership with Vitra Design Museum in Germany, M7, under Qatar Museums will present a world-renowned collection of iconic furniture spanning two centuries, from September 8 to December 9, 2023.

Vitra Design Mueum by Frank Gehry

M7, under the umbrella of Qatar Museums, will bring one of the world’s most important collections of furniture design to Doha with the exhibition Masterpieces of Furniture Design, on view from September 8 through December 9, 2023. Curated by the Vitra Design Museum Director Dr. Mateo Kries, the exhibition will explore the evolution of more than 200 years of design through 52 iconic pieces of modern furniture from the museum’s renowned collection, which dates from the 18th century through today.

The exhibition will feature works from the most influential names in modern design such as Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Alvar Aalto, Charlotte Perriand, Marcel Breuer, and Virgil Abloh, among others.

Öki Sato, Manga Chair #47, 2015 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Andreas Sütterlin

“M7 is excited to present Masterpieces of Furniture Design, bringing one of the world’s most iconic collections of furniture design to Doha,” said Maha Ghanim Al Sulaiti, Director of M7,“We are thrilled to be working with the Vitra Design Museum to bring this important exhibition for the first time in our region. We look forward to the general public and creatives alike to see the evolution of furniture design that have shaped our daily lives.”

Faye Toogood, Roly-Poly, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Andreas Sutterlin

“Furniture is closer to us than most other objects in our lives; it is an everyday companion,” said Dr. Mateo Kries, Director of the Vitra Design Museum. “Masterpieces of Furniture Design highlights key objects from the Vitra Design Museum collection. Featuring iconic design classics as well as lesser-known works, it sets a special focus on expanding the canon of design by calling attention to female designers and non-Western creators. As Qatar’s home for innovation and entrepreneurship in design, fashion, and technology, M7 is an ideal location for these stories and this collection to be shared.”

Alvar Aalto, 41 / Paimio Chair, 1932 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Jürgen Hans

Masterpieces of Furniture Design explores a number of styles and artistic concepts ranging from Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Organic Design, Pop, Scandinavian and Italian Postwar Modernism, and Postmodernism, as well as the influence of the digital era on furniture. It also underscores the various purposes of design, from solving technical and constructive challenges to creating beauty and inspiration in everyday environments. All objects featured in the exhibition are early original versions that reflect the initial design idea behind each piece.

Exhibition highlights include Wassily armchair by Marcel Breuer, Broom chair by Philippe Starck, Panton Chair by Verner Panton, Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen, The Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen, MR 10/2 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray’s E 1027 Side Table, Mesa table designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrick Schumacher and Carlton by Ettore Sottsass, co-founder of the Memphis collective.  In addition, M7 will display an assortment of exquisite pieces of furniture made by local designers in homage to the exhibition.

Eero Saarinen, No. 151 / Tulip Chair, Pedestal Chair, 1955-1957 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Andreas Sütterlin

Masterpieces of Furniture Design will be grouped according to seven principles and explores themes that define excellence in design: Innovating Crafts and Technologies, Designing Sustainability, Learning from Nature, Comfort Zones, The Social Questions, Less is More, and Dialogues between Art and Design. An archival section features prototypes, material samples, drawings, posters, and other documents from the Vitra Design Museum that provide background information about the inspirations and design processes behind the exhibits. For additional context, large-scale images will depict the works in the historical setting for which they were created or in which they were presented for the first time.

The exhibition is accompanied by the Atlas of Furniture Design, the most comprehensive overview on the history of modern furniture design. The second edition of the iconic publication will be on display at the reading corner of the exhibition and will be available to purchase at the gift shop. The book, which exceeds 1000 pages in length, is the product of over 20 years of research documenting 1740 objects by more than 540 designers and features more than 2800 illustrations. Key designs are analysed in some 550 texts, while in-depth essays on four historical epochs describe the sociocultural and design-historical context of the objects.

Harry Bertoia, 422 / Large Diamond Chair, 1950-1952 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Jürgen Hans © 2023 Estate of Harry Bertoia / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Complimenting Masterpieces of Furniture Design, the presenting sponsor, Al Mana Maples will host Miniatures Exhibition in Msheireb Doha Design District. The exhibition will feature 100 Classical Seats in exact 1:6 miniature replicas and is intended to convey the significance of design and the role it plays in the industrial production process. Al Mana Maples will also be showcasing a small-scale roadshow, The Original Comes from Vitra which will be shown at M7’s creative learning space. The exhibition is part of an international roadshow behind iconic Vitra classic and contemporary products through dynamic storytelling. The original products include the Standard chair designed by Jean Prouve, the Landi Chair by Hans Coray, and the iconic Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames.

Also accompanying the exhibition, M7 will be delivering a robust roster of public programmes to engage the general public tailored specifically for creatives that will run across the duration of the exhibition. Programmes will include public conversations, masterclasses, workshops, and special tours. The yearly Zwara programme will begin in tandem with Masterpieces of Furniture Design, where participating designers will draw inspiration from the exhibition and respond to a design prompt.