Barcelona chair

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Barcelona chair
Ngv design, ludwig mies van der rohe & co, barcelona chair.JPG
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. It was originally designed for the German Pavilion, that country's entry for the International Exposition of 1929, which was hosted by Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was first used in Villa Tugendhat, a World Heritage Site designed by Mies van der Rohe in the city of Brno (Czech Republic).[1]

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 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.

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 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."[2] 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.[3]

Current production[edit]

Since 1953 Knoll Inc has manufactured Barcelona chairs. They make the frame in two different steel configurations, chrome and stainless. They say that their chairs are almost completely hand-laboured,[4] and that a facsimile of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's signature is stamped into each chair.

Barcelona chairs are made by other manufacturers worldwide and are sold under different marketing names.

In popular culture[edit]

In his 1981 book about modern architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House, Tom Wolfe mocked the Barcelona chair as "the Platonic ideal of 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 fledgeling architect and his young wife had sacrificed everything to bring the symbol of the godly mission into their home."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^,9171,809146,00.html
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-04-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-04-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Goldberger, Paul (October 11, 1981). "From Bauhaus to Our House". The New York Times.
  • 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]