Gornergrat Bahn Matterhorn

“In the lowlands, the stone will never shine as brightly as at its place of origin”

Story 118

In 2000, the Gornergrat Bahn planned the modernisation of four double railcars, which had then been in service for a total of 118 years. Designer Anna-Maria Müller, who worked for Lantal Textiles at the time, was entrusted with the re-design. In an interview, she tells us how a stone from the Gornergrat inspired her. 

Anna-Maria Müller, how did you approach the modernisation of the twin railcars 3041-3044 back then?  

Anna-Maria Müller: “The task was really exciting. After lengthy discussions, we found the right new seat upholstery fabric. As the upholstery material has a significant effect on the whole passenger compartment, we adapted the entire interior to the colours of the new fabric: soft blue, aluminium and light wood.” 

What research did you do for the project? 

Anna-Maria Müller: “I travelled up the Gornergrat with my daughter early in the morning. It was a picture-perfect day, like you see in the brochures. The sky was blue, the stones were glowing in a silvery tone and had a very special shine. From then on, I was captivated by the colours of the wonderful mountains around Zermatt.” 

Colours convey emotions. How did you ultimately proceed with the selection process? 

Anna-Maria Müller: “It was immediately clear to me that the sky and the silvery tone had to be made visible on the railcar. So I needed to capture the colours and take them with me to have an exact picture in my mind when determining the colours. I picked up a stone and secretly put it in my backpack. It was hand-sized and glowing silver. 

So, did you remember the colours when you got home? 

Anna-Maria Müller: “At home at my place of work, the stone from the Gornergrat had lost its light! I was stunned and disappointed. It is impossible to take home all the wonders and beauty of this world. An object is always at its most beautiful at its place of origin.” 

But it still ended up as a modern design. How did you proceed? 

Anna-Maria Müller: “We harmonised the large mandatory area in the signal brown of the Gornergrat Railway and the stripes in a golden ratio in blue and silver. The roof was bright silver, then there was a stripe of blue as a connection to the sky, then the Gornergrat Railway brown and at the bottom another stripe of Zermatt silver.” 

What happened to the stone? 

Anna-Maria Müller: “At the presentation of the first carriage in Zermatt, I was given the honour of explaining the design and its origins. At the very end of my presentation, I sheepishly removed the stone from my backpack and asked a member of the railway staff to take it back to where I had picked it up. In the lowlands, the stone will never shine as brightly as at its place of origin."

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