The Barcelona Chair was created and designed by architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. It was designed in 1929 in collaboration with his partner and companion, designer Lilly Reich, for the Barcelona International Exposition. The Barcelona Chair is considered one of the most recognized pieces of furniture of the last century. It has become an icon of the modern movement, as it radiates a simple elegance that embodies the legacy of Mies Van Der Rohe as an artist.
Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe was born on March 27, 1886 in Aachen (Germany). Influenced by the end of World War I, he took refuge in avant-garde movements that separated from the period he faced. His main focus was to create revolutionary projects, this design came to life with the assistance of Lilly Reich (Berlin, 1885 - 1947) who was a well-known modern German designer, that associated with Ludwig for more than ten years, together they shaped a chair design that offers an experimental proposal for domestic use. Each piece of this chair is a tribute to the perfect marriage of modern design and exceptional craftsmanship.
The structure of the chair is made of polished stainless steel giving a sense of harmony and lightness. One of the most striking aspects of this piece of furniture is that the frame is welded in one piece. And its shape, while representing a modern design for its time, is based on that of a type of chair used by Roman magistrates called “sella curulis”, while the scissor shape that supports its base is inspired by the association of Egyptian folding chairs, which in turn, are considered a symbol of royalty, "royalty mixed with the progress of democracy" some say, a phrase normally used to describe this undeniable connection between the past, present, and future.
The Barcelona chair is upholstered with 40 individual panels that are cut, welded by hand, and inserted, also by hand, with leather buttons produced from cowhide. The cushions are made of high-quality, high elasticity polyurethane foam with polyester Dacron fiber. The upholstery straps are leather. The sides are dyed to match the upholstery color. Seventeen straps are used for cushion support and the frame is chrome plated and hand polished for a mirror finish. Upholstery straps joined with aluminum rivets
Shortly after designing it in 1930, the Barcelona chair was presented as an essential piece in a bachelor's apartment. This piece of furniture is as simple as it is complex, following Ludwig's motto of "less is more", without neglecting extreme attention to detail and quality when it comes to the materials used in this creation. Its exact function is also unknown: it is described as a divan, daybed, lounger, and chaise-longue, which are just some of the names attributed by the public. A recurring topic is that there are no rules for using this iconic piece of contemporary furniture, it can be used in public and private spaces, in the living room or bedroom, in a psychiatrist's office, or even in a bank lobby. Depending on the skin tone used, the same design can convey different perceptions.
The Barcelona divan is currently produced by the American firm Knoll after an agreement with the architect in 1953 and is available in two different types of leather: Volo and Sabrina, and six different color tones. Each piece is printed with the Knoll logo and the architect's signature.
The divan shares with the previous Barcelona chair shapes and materials, besides the elegant look, the symbol of a new type of luxury that has little to do with comfort. Its influence in the modern world is not limited to the art of modern furniture or better said, is not limited to one type of art. It is common knowledge that pop culture finds inspiration from multiple artists and time periods, therefore is not rare to see how has after all these years its presence remains strong in the modern world, a clear example of the attendance of this iconic piece of furniture is that it is featured in the great phenomenon that are Hollywood movies. Making a cameo in blockbuster films such as Iron Man, Twilight, Casino Royale, and Summer 500, to name only a few.
Demonstrating once again that its authors responded to the need the world had of altering the methods of thought that found modern thinking. Where the cleanliness of forms, the use of new materials and a structural beauty inherited from the good geometry and pragmatism of the industrial era prevailed, initiating the birth of minimalism