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Barcelona chair

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barcelona chair
DesignerLudwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich
MaterialsChrome on steel frame. Leather cushions filled with foam
Style / traditionModernist
Height75 cm (30 in)
Width75 cm (30 in)
Depth75 cm (30 in)

The Barcelona chair is a chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich,[1][2] for the German Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929, hosted by Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

The chair was first used in Villa Tugendhat, a private residence, designed by Mies in Brno (Czech Republic).[3] [failed verification]

Materials and manufacture[edit]

The frame was initially designed to be bolted together but was redesigned in 1950 using stainless steel, which allowed the frame to be formed with a seamless piece of metal, giving it a smoother appearance. Bovine leather replaced the ivory-colored pigskin which was used for the original pieces.

Philosophy and ergonomics[edit]

Although many architects and furniture designers of the Bauhaus era were intent on providing well-designed homes and impeccably manufactured furnishings for common people, the Barcelona chair was an exception. It was designed for Spanish royalty to oversee the opening ceremonies of the exhibition and was described by Time magazine as inhabiting a "sumptuous German pavilion."[4] The form is thought to be extrapolated from Roman folding chairs known as the Curule chair – upholstered stools used by the Roman aristocracy. According to Knoll Inc., despite its industrial appearance the Barcelona chair requires much hand crafting.[5]

Current production[edit]

Since 1953 Knoll Inc has manufactured the Barcelona chair in both chrome and stainless steel. The chairs are almost completely hand-crafted,[5] and each carries a facsimile of van der Rohe's signature, stamped into its frame.[citation needed]

Barcelona Ottoman in situ at the reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion
Barcelona Chair in situ at the reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion

Unlicensed replicas of the original design are made by other manufacturers worldwide and are sold under different marketing names. Such designs are frequently subject to legal challenges.[6][citation needed]

Unlicensed replicas

In popular culture[edit]

In his 1981 book about modern architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House, Tom Wolfe called the Barcelona chair as "the Platonic ideal of the chair", and wrote that, despite its high price, owning one had become a necessity for young architects: "When you saw the holy object on the sisal rug, you knew you were in a household where a fledgling architect and his young wife had sacrificed everything to bring the symbol of the godly mission into their home."[7]

On the cover of the fifth volume of Spy × Family, the character Yuri Briar is shown sitting on a Barcelona chair.[8]

In the 2001 Star Trek: Voyager finale, "Endgame", it was featured in Admiral Kathryn Janeway's apartment.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pfeiffer, Albert (29 March 2013). "Association of Women Industrial Designers || Lilly Reich". Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  2. ^ "Lilly Reich: Designer and Architect | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  3. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Tugendhat Villa in Brno". UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
  4. ^ "Art: Architects' Furniture". 18 February 1957 – via content.time.com.
  5. ^ a b "Barcelona Chair" (PDF). Knoll.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  6. ^ "How E-Commerce Changed the Knock-Off Furniture Game - Dwell". www.dwell.com. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  7. ^ Goldberger, Paul (11 October 1981). "From Bauhaus to Our House". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Here Are All The Designer Chairs Featured In Spy×Family So Far". Anime News Network. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  9. ^ D'Oria, Tadeo; Farley, Eno; Schneider, Bernd; Hillebrand, Jörg (23 March 2023). "Ex Astris Scientia - Commercially Available Chairs in Star Trek". Ex Astris Scientia. ex-astris-scientia.org. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  • Sourcebook of Modern Furniture, Third Edition, Jerryll Habegger and Joseph H Osman
  • Miles van der Rohe, Aurora Cuito and Cristina Montes
  • Bauhaus, Hans Engels and Ulf Meyer
  • Modernism - designing a new world, Christopher Wilk, V&A p. 155
  • Oxford Dictionary of Modern Design, Jonathan Woodham

External links[edit]