As cities grow, they tend to swallow and overtake smaller towns that were once situated well outside. Often this leads to a loss of the local identity, unless the former towns fight back. Weil am Rhein did this in a very creative way by building giant chairs.
The town is situated just over the German border, not far from Dreiländereck, where the borders of Germany, France, and Switzerland meet. It used to be completely separate from Basel, but as both cities grew, their borders started touching more and more, to the point where many people started thinking that Weil am Rhein was the German part of Basel.
People in Weil am Rhein disliked this and decided that they needed a new and separate identity from Basel. They decided that giant chairs were the key. Large chairs started appearing all over the town, not only on the ground but also on top of buildings. Most of them are made in a way that makes them climbable.
In the 1970s, a local artist and architect named Lassù burned chairs as an art form. He built a large concrete chair on top of a pyramid to allow for recurrent burnings.
Furniture is a big bar of the history of Weil am Rhein. The town is home to the headquarters of the Vitra Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of designer furniture in Europe. The company operates the Vitra Design Museum, which explores the history of furniture and interior design. Its collection includes several historically significant chairs, including Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chair, Charles and Ray Eames’ iconic Lounge Chair, and many more.
Know Before You Go
Weil am Rhein is easily accessible from Basel and definitely worth a stroll if you want to see the bizarre collection of chairs.