Vitsoe 620 chair and sofa.

The 620 Chair Programme is a kit of parts, not just a chair.

As Europe was rebuilt in the 1950s, homes became smaller; rooms that used to perform a single function became multi-use. Furniture that could adapt to this changing world was needed. From 1955 the young industrial designer, Dieter Rams, was designing not only interiors and electrical products for the German company, Braun, but was also developing ideas for a new furniture landscape for Vitsoe.

Rams’s furniture was based on pure system thinking: a kit of parts – conceived with longevity at its heart – that would adapt in response to the changing needs of the user. At the start of the 1960s Vitsoe launched two furniture systems that epitomised Rams’s thinking: the 606 Universal Shelving System and the 620 Chair Programme.

At first glance the chair programme appears to be just a chair or a sofa. But closer inspection reveals pig-nosed bolts which allow, for example, the addition or removal of chairs so that a single seat can become multiple – or vice versa. Ultimately, after many years of adaptable service, it is such careful thinking that allows you to replace the upholstery yourself and ensure longevity well beyond what might be considered normal in the 21st century.