Harri and Astrid are a Finnish-German couple who live in the loft of the VitraHaus. He is a musician, she is a set designer. Together they decorated their penthouse with classic designs such as Eames chairs and Jean Prouve lamps, and over they years they filled the shelves with books, art and curios bought on their travels. Or did they?

All is not what it seems at the Herzog & de Meuron-designed VitraHaus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Harri and Astrid do not actually exist but rather represent the first collaboration between the Artek (Finnish) and Vitra (German) design houses, who invited interior architect Ilse Crawford to use their products in this permanent installation.

“We wanted to think beyond the furniture and lighting and beyond the bland commercialisation of design, to convey real life in all its layers and eccentricities,” explains Crawford of the idea to invent a fictitious couple.

More than simply the marking of a new Vitra-Artek working relationship, the lived-in look at Crawford’s residence makes an important point about the notion of icons of design. “To see them as museum exhibits or sales units is a profound injustice to their creators,” says Crawford. “These pieces are stories of real life and courageous intentions to raise the quality of everyday living.” Her message: don’t worry about spilling your wine on that Alvar Aalto chair and feel free to relax and put your feet on the Jean Prove table!

Weil am Rhein, Germany