The magnificent and majestic Barcelona chair caused quite a stir when it was designed by Mies van der Rohe some eighty years ago back in the 1929. Although this piece of furniture was never actually graced by the royal people as it was originally intended, these days it is a highly sought after addition to many stately homes and residences of the rich and famous.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from the famous German Bauhaus institute designed the chair with the collaboration of Lilly Reich. The design was based on the chairs that were used by the Romans and the Pharaohs, and updated this classic folding chair concept for the German and international markets. When it was originally unveiled, the chair took the center stage in the International Exposition’s German Pavilion, which was also designed by Mies van der Rohe. The International Exposition was hosted in the city of Barcelona in Spain and drew huge crowds of designers and visitors.
The chair played a significant role in the resurgence of the German design after World War I, and grabbed the attention of a whole host of international designers. It was originally bolted together and had quite an austere appearance.
The chair has been transformed and adapted slightly over the years for the modern market. When stainless steel was developed in 1950, van der Rohe was quick to recognize the potential of this new material and redesigned the chair to feature a seamless metal frame. He also replaced the original pigskin seat with cowhide.
The manufacture of the Barcelona chair was taken up by Knoll Inc in 1953. They decided to add more variety to the chair by offering buyers a choice between stainless steel and chrome frames. Almost every part of the chair is made by hand and bears the signature of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe stamped into the frame.