Barcelona Chair (1929)

One of the most frequently used chair in interior design – modernist classic originally designed exclusively for the German Pavilion, Ibero-American Exposition hosted by Barcelona, Spain, in 1929.

Barcelona Chair,
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1929

Image source: https://www.knoll.com/product/barcelona-chair

The design resulted from collaboration between the famous Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his longtime partner and companion, architect and designer Lilly Reich.

Info source: https://flyingarchitecture.com/models/barcelona-chair

 

Less is more

One of the most recognized objects of the last century, and an icon of the modern movement, the Barcelona Chair exudes a simple elegance that epitomizes Mies van der Rohe’s most famous maxim–“less is more.” Mies van der Rohe’s highly disciplined architecture. It is supported on each side by two chrome-plated, flat steel bars. Seen from the side, the single curve of the bar forming the chair’s back and front legs crosses the S-curve of the bar forming the seat and back legs, making an intersection of the two. This simple shape derives from a long history of precedents, from ancient Egyptian folding stools to nineteenth-century neoclassical seating. The cantilevered seat and the back of the original chairs were upholstered in white kid leather with welt and button details.

The frame of the Barcelona Chair, 1931, produced by the Bamburg Company

Image source: https://www.knoll.com/knollnewsdetail/design-deconstructed-barcelona-chair

Info source: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/4369

 

A Royal Chair

Although many architects and furniture designers of the Bauhaus era were intent on providing well-designed homes and impeccably manufactured furnishings for the “common man,” the Barcelona chair was an exception. It was designed for the Spanish Royalty to oversee the opening ceremonies of the exhibition and described by Time magazine as inhabiting “his sumptuous German pavilion.” The form is thought to be extrapolated from Roman folding chairs known as the Curule chair – upholstered stools used by Roman aristocracy. According to Knoll Inc., despite its industrial appearance the Barcelona chair requires much hand craftsmanship.

The Barcelona chair was exclusively designed by Mies van der Rohe for the German Pavilion, that country’s entry for the International Exposition of 1929, which was hosted by Barcelona, Spain.

Image source: https://advandstudio.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/barcelona-chair/

“The government was to receive a king. . . . The chair had to be . . . monumental. In those circumstances, you just couldn’t use a kitchen chair.”

Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona_chair

 

Production

In 1948, a year after the death of Reich (his romantic and professional partner), Mies van der Rohe granted the New York company Knoll the rights to produce their furniture. The chair’s reintroduction, with welded stainless steel replacing the bolted frame, was popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Knoll only officially patented the chair in 2004, hence the amount of replicas on the market, but Mies van der Rohe and Reich’s originals sell on Knoll’s website from $5,429.

Knoll Showroom Toronto

Image source: http://design.pambianconews.com/lamericana-knoll-rileva-la-danese-muuto/

Info source: https://www.ft.com/content/c8606bfe-0b75-11e5-8937-00144feabdc0

 

Data sheet

Designer: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich

Year: 1929

Producer: Knoll

Finishes: Available in a range of Spinneybeck leathers. The frame is available polished chrome. This product is available with foam that meets requirements for BS5852.

front and side views listed

Image source: http://www.serbyil.com/barcelona-chair-measurements/barcelona-loveseat-dimensio-batar-barcelona-chair-measurements/

Construction and Details:

  • Upholstered with 40 individual panels. Individual panels are cut, hand-welted, and hand-tufted with leather buttons produced from a single cowhide. Cushions are premium quality, highly resilient urethane foam with down-like dacron polyester fiberfill.
  • Upholstery straps are cowhide belting leather. Sides are dyed to match specified upholstery color. 17 straps are used for cushion support.
  • Frame is polished chrome hand-ground and hand-buffed to a mirror finish. Upholstery straps attached with aluminum rivets.
  • The KnollStudio logo and signature of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe are stamped into the leg.

Info source: https://www.knoll.com/product/barcelona-chair