Urs Felber

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Urs Felber
Urs Felber.jpg
Born (1942-07-10)10 July 1942
Egerkingen, Switzerland
Died 26 April 2010(2010-04-26) (aged 67)
Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Nationality   Switzerland
Occupation Businessman and design pioneer
Spouse(s) Aviva Felber
Children Nathalie Felber, Jacqueline Felber

Urs Felber (10 July 1942 – 26 April 2010) was a Swiss industrialist, philanthropist and design pioneer.

Life and career[edit]

Felber was born in 1942 in Egerkingen, Switzerland, a small town in the canton of Solothurn.[1] His family ran a local carpentry workshop.

From 1962 to 1965, he studied mechanical engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. In 1964, he replaced a fellow student in his field study at a small furniture manufacturer company, De Sede. In 1966, he became a system engineer at De Sede. He took a 50 percent stake in the company.[2] By 1978, De Sede was exporting to over 70 countries and reached a turnover of 85 million CHF. At age 36, Felber sold De Sede and moved to Monaco.

In 1979, he obtained a PhD in Design Management at Stanford University, California and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He authored Systematic Design Management in the Enterprise: Fundamentals and Concepts which heralded the birth of design management, design science and methodology.[3]

In the 1980s, he became a business partner and CEO of Vitra USA, the world's leading contract furniture manufacturing firm.[4] Parallel to his US activities, he became a board director in several companies, such as Wilkhahn International, Wilkhahn Switzerland, Swissflex and Team by Wellis.

In 2001, Urs Felber bought the historical Swiss furniture company Dietiker AG[5] from the supermarket chain Migros and transformed it into a recognized brand by bringing contemporary designs, with products winning the Red Dot Design Award and Neocon Innovation Award. Dietiker became a leader in Switzerland and Europe in the contract furniture market.

Felber was also a notable art and design collector and dedicated friend of artists Helmut Newton, Verner Panton, Menashe Kadishman, Maarten Baas, Hannes Wettstein (de), and Alfred Hofkunst, among others.


Felber was a philanthropist and supported institutions and individuals, such as the Tinguely Museum in Basel, the Helmut Newton Museum in Berlin, and the Polish church.[6] He was a major benefactor to Israeli institutions, including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the University of Tel Aviv.[7]

He was also a major supporter of the Miami-based New World Symphony Orchestra, directed by Michael Tilson Thomas. In 1996, he sponsored, along with Ted Arison, the New World Symphony Orchestra's world tour, starting in Monaco and ending in Latrun, West Bank.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1999, he was made a Honorary Fellow of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.In 2002, Felber was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Tel Aviv for his achievements and cultural engagement to education in Israel.[8] On 20 May 2003, the Aviva and Urs Felber Jubilee Plaza was inaugurated at Tel Aviv University in recognition of his commitment and donations to the university.[9]


Urs Felber died of cardiac arrest following a sudden acidosis at the Princesse Grace Hospital in Monaco on 26 April 2010. He was buried in Egerkingen.


Success is never accidental

I'm Swiss but not practicing[10]


  1. ^ http://www.contractdesign.com/contract/Design-Industry-Mour-1724.shtml
  2. ^ "Nachrichten und Informationen aus der Möbelbranche". moebelkultur.de. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  3. ^ Urs Felber, "Systematisches Designmanagement in der Unternehmung: Grundlagen und Konzepte", Marburg, 1984
  4. ^ http://www.contractdesign.com/contract/ls/article-archive.html?articletitle=COLUMNS-NONE_Focus_%20Ones%20to%20Watch_565.xml
  5. ^ Vlessing, Robert; Lasker, David (2007-11-04). "Dietiker Switzerland". metropolismag.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. 
  6. ^ 'European Invasion', The Monday Morning Quarterback, 8 October 2007, p.9
  7. ^ Lifestyles Magazine, issue #216, Summer 2008, p.146, 'Urs Felber: Fortuitous — By Deena Sherman'
  8. ^ "Tel Aviv University Webflash - May 2003". .tau.ac.il. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  9. ^ http://www.tau.ac.il/public-affairs/TAU_Insider_Fall06.pdf
  10. ^ Lifestyles Magazine, issue #216, Summer 2008, p.147, 'Urs Felber: Fortuitous — By Deena Sherman'

External links[edit]