The Barcelona chair was specially designed for presentation at the Barcelona International Exhibition in 1929. The chair was designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich and is an important symbol of the modernist design movement. Colors of the year and current interior styles come and go. True classics, on the other hand, look just as fresh in modern rooms as in the eyes of their creators. Learn how the master’s showpiece became one of the most iconic (and sought-after) chairs of all time in 1929.
The very first Barcelona chairs were made with a chrome frame. The style was redesigned by Mies in 1950 using highly polished stainless steel to give consumers a sleeker look. The falling, chrome-plated crossbars of the Barcelona Chair, which were forged as individual units and then bolted with two vertical parts to the edge of its backrest and seat, give a twist to the classic scissor shape of curule seats, which were reserved for dignitaries in ancient Rome, and form a dramatic cantilevered perch. Although many architects and furniture designers of the Bauhaus era were anxious to provide the common man with well-designed houses and impeccably crafted furniture, the Barcelona Chair was an exception.
This attention to detail and the use of high-quality materials is reflected in every Knoll chair. Mies, a close friend and mentor of Florence Knoll during her time at the Illinois Institute of Technology, officially granted Knoll the production rights for the Barcelona Chair and Stool in 1953. Inspired by classic shapes, the basic scissor-shaped design of the Barcelona Chair (known as Curule Seat) dates back to 1500 BC. Most lovers of mid-century modern design say that the best chairs in this style have been made by Knoll since the early 1950s. As organizational elements, the chairs and associated stools were positioned throughout the pavilion as fixed parts that Mies had intended for her stay.
Since the limited-edition production chairs produced early on are rarely available for sale, most fans of modernism are looking for chairs that have been made since the 1950s. As 20th-century design specialist Michael Jefferson put it, I’m not sure if there is a more unique expression of Mies’ aesthetics and rigor than the Barcelona Chair. The cover of the fifth volume of Spy × Family features the character Yuri Briar sitting on a Barcelona chair. The chairs are almost completely handmade and each has a facsimile of Van der Rohe’s signature, which is stamped into the frame.
A variety of throw pillows soften the modern lines of the sectional sofa and Barcelona chair in this casual family space. To make sure you’re buying a high-quality original instead of a reproduction, learn more about identifying an authentic Barcelona chair with these steps. As such, he was chosen to design the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona. In 1953, Knoll created a replica of one of the ivory-colored chairs and presented it to the Museum of Modern Art.