The Barcelona Chair | Knoll

October 05, 2020

Designed in 1929 by Ludwig Mies can der Rohe, the Barcelona chair is produced by Knoll Studio and is a timeless and elegant piece of furniture. Initially designed to please the King of Spain when he visited the German Pavilion at the International Exposition 90 years ago, the Barcelona Chair lived through the twentieth century to become today an icon of modern design.


The Original Project

In the thirties, Mies van der Rohe became the director of the Armour Institute in Chicago, where he was to meet Florence Schust, Hans Knoll’s future wife. This encounter changed both their lives: Florence, in Mies found her absolute mentor, and the maestro found in the Knoll family his perfect interlocutors, for the exclusive realisation of his ideal of modern furniture. From the first edition of the Barcelona Chair in 1948, this masterpiece designed by Mies in the late twenties entered the annals of design history thanks to Knoll.


The Barcelona® Collection

In 1929, Mies designed the German Pavilion for the Expo in Barcelona, an open building of displaced storeys that never fully enclose the interiors thanks to generous use of large windows. Among its very few furnishing elements a modern throne stood out as a seating solution that bridged past and future, its cross-shaped base recalling a Roman curule seat or sella curulis. This jewel of a furniture, powerful and yet somehow weightless, supports two cushions in tufted leather, another eloquent mark of luxury craftsmanship.

It is clear that here the designer wanted more than a chair without a story, he wanted to imbue memory with a future, launching a new aesthetic sense based on no-frills leanness.


The Production

 The genius and the hand of man come together in perfect synthesis in the production of the Barcelona Chair. Still today, its various pieces undergo processes that see machines aided by the skilled experience of the craftsmen who then finish meticulous details by hand, such as the seaming and overstitching of the 40 leather squares that form the upholstery of the cushions. This manual expertise highlights the continuity between tradition and innovation, pursued by both the maestro's design and the reality of manufacture.


The base of the chair is stamped with the signature of designer Ludwig Miles can der Rohe. Each chair shows an individual production number of identification and authenticity. Click here to find more information on how you can recognise an original Barcelona Chair from a copy 



Modern Always

The Barcelona Chair was not only intimately linked to the architectural structure for which it was created, it also remains the most tangible and long-lasting testimony of this building. The Expo pavilion was in fact a fleeting apparition demolished in 1930, only to be rebuilt in 1986, while the Barcelona Chair has known no interruptions since its first edition in 1948. What makes it so impervious to time is precisely its ability to be a timeless classic, the embodiment of the very essence of modernity: truth of structure and elegance of reduced shapes.


Easily identifiable, the Barcelona Chair is stands out with its unique combination of wide seat & backrest with the x-shaped curved legs. More than 60 years after its initial production, the ground-breaking design is still produced with the original dimensions in more than 28 countries.

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