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.

Photo of the Barcelona chair
Barcelona chair, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Reich 1929 

Image source: by GuySie

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

Less is more

One of the most recognizable designs of the last century, as well as an icon of the modern movement, the Barcelona Chair exudes a simple elegance that epitomizes Mies van der Rohe’s most famous aphorism:

Less is more

The chair exemplifies 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.

Photo of the Barcelona chair
Barcelona Chair in the German Pavillion of Universal Exhibition in Barcelona (1929), by Mies and Reich

Image source:

Photo of the Barcelona chair
The Barcelona Chair

Image source: by Gribiche

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.

Photo of the Barcelona chair
The Barcelona Chair

Image source: by andreas_fischler

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

– Mies Van der Rohe


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, became 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.

Authentic Barcelona chairs for Knoll 1985
Authentic Barcelona chairs for Knoll 1985

Image source: by Paris on Ponce & Le Maison Rouge

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.

Additional info

  • 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:

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