the BARCELONA CHAIR

October 15, 2012

The Barcelona chair was exclusively designed for the German Pavilion, that country’s entry for the International Exposition of 1929, which was hosted by Barcelona, Spain by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  A German-American architect, he is commonly referred to, and was addressed, as Mies, his surname. Along with Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto and Frank Lloyd Wright, he is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.  Pictured above in what I personally think is his masterpiece, Farnsworth House, the Barcelona Chair has become an icon of mid-century style and the Bauhaus movement.


Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate-glass to define interior spaces. He strived towards an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. He called his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design. He is often associated with the aphorisms “less is more”.

But this is about the Barcelona chair, not just its designer.  The frame was initially designed to be bolted together, but was redesigned in 1950 using stainless steel, which allowed the frame to be formed by a seamless piece of metal, giving it a smoother appearance. Bovine leather replaced the ivory-colored pigskin which was used for the original pieces.

The functional design and elements of it that were patented by Mies in Germany, Spain and the United States in the 1930s have since expired. The Barcelona chair was manufactured in the US and Europe in limited production from the 1930s to the 1950s. In 1953 van der Rohe ceded his rights and his name on the design to Knoll, knowing that his design patents were expired. This collaboration then renewed popularity in the design.  Since 1953 Knoll Inc has manufactured the chair. They make the frame in two different steel configurations, chrome and stainless. The chair is almost completely hand-laboured, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s signature is stamped into each chair. Unauthorized reproductions proliferate worldwide and are sold under different marketing names.

The source of the majority of this information was taken from Wikipedia

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5 Responses to “the BARCELONA CHAIR”

  1. Danny Says:

    I have always loved the Barcelona chair…maybe one day 🙂

  2. JD Says:

    I wrote an entire essay on this chair.


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