At the Vitra Campus, a dome modelled after the famous ones by Buckminster Fuller houses a vibrant shoe shop. The geodesic structure is one of the many architectural marvels on the grounds of the furniture manufacturer’s headquarters in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Its interior transformation – by the Berlin-based Burkina Faso architect Diébédo Francis Kéré – marks the first partnership between Vitra and the Spanish shoe company Camper.
The temporary project, running for three months to coincide with the Making Africa exhibit at the nearby Vitra Design Museum and another exhibit, fêting Camper’s 40th anniversary, at the London Design Museum, aims to showcase footwear from the limited-edition Ethical Fashion Initiative. The United Nations program partners artisans in countries such as Ethiopia and Haiti with internationally renowned designers and brands – such as Camper – to help promote awareness of their work. Also on display is a selection from Camper’s Fall/Winter 2015-16 collection.
Kéré’s circular structure features an interior ring of shelving that displays the shoes along with background information on their design and designers; it’s topped with another ring that shows off red shoe boxes to add an infusion of colour to the bright white setup. Outside this ring, a wider exterior ring lets visitors see the process of shoemaking on site, and experiment with a scanner that takes exact measurements of their feet, resulting in a digital profile that produces the perfect fit for shoes and insoles and can be used to make future purchases. The retail concepts on show are as remarkable as Kéré’s circular display towers, which provide a constant journey of discovery.