Barcelona Chair - 1929
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
If we think of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, we immediately think of “Casa Farnsworth”, of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin and - certainly - of the pavilion, realised for the Universal Exposition of Barcelona in 1929. On that occasion, one of the worldwide design icons was born: the Barcelona Chair.
Mies' idea sprang up from the wish to revisit in an industrial key the “sella curulis”
, the Etruscan upholstered chair used in ancient Rome, reserved to magistrates and Roman aristocracy. His idea was to accommodate the Royalty of Spain to the best, during the Exposition. Mies said that he conceived this chair "for the rest of the King".
The Barcelona Chair was initially designed according to the technologies of the time, using therefore a metal part made of bolted pieces with elegant and delicate curved feet
; the frame was then replaced by stainless steel in 1950. To recall the ancient Rome, he initially thought to use wild boar skin for the upholstery, then replaced by bovine leather divided into 40 hand-sewn squares, whose corners are quilted with buttons.
The smoothness and slenderness of the structure, together with the hefty handcrafted upholstery give an elegant, important, and impressive effect to the Barcelona Chair.
The production of the Barcelona Chair has never been interrupted, even during the Second World War. Mies sold the marketing and production rights to his friend Florence Knoll (Knoll
brand) in 1953, during his period at the Illinois Institute of Technology (always designed by Mies).