Few people know that the Barcelona chair was created with the care that goes into a design that will be used by royalty, as the king and queen of Spain were expected to visit the German Pavilion to witness the International Exposition where these creations would be released. For this reason, architect and designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe knew that he was facing an unprecedented degree of pressure in his career since he not only wanted to deliver a piece that lived up to expectations, but also one that had valuable meaning within the world of design, and was specifically framed within the modernist trends that dominated the market and the taste of users in an increasingly accentuated and evident way. It was under this premise that this and all the pieces of the Barcelona Collection made their appearance for the first time in 1929. In this edition of Manhattan Home Design Reviews, you will learn a little more about the importance of this piece and why it became so relevant.
Although little less than a century has passed since that event, it’s still surprising that the chair continues to be so popular and, above all, the fact that over the years it has won so many merits, to the point that many see the piece as another celebrity, taking into account that due to its prestige it has constantly appeared in series, movies and audiovisual productions in general, magazines, and innumerable layouts for enthusiasts and professional staging projects in interior decor. The influence is undeniable and the iconic value of these models has already transcended several eras and generations.
Traits of a Great Piece
The Barcelona chair and the ottoman that complements it are pieces that many would like to have in their spaces. For most specialists, the scissor shape in which its legs are arranged is inspired by the design of curule chairs, a type of folding seat with curved legs and no back that served as a chair in the days of the ancient Roman Empire for high-ranking government authorities. The van der Rohe design, which he co-developed with Lilly Reich, would turn heads not only for that kind of detail but for its minimalist flair, sleek geometric lines, and top-notch materials used in its construction. It was an extraordinarily successful combination of form and function.
Other features of this masterpiece include its frame constructed of superior grade steel for stronger support and resistance to chipping, corrosion, and rust, its cushion surface with individually cut and sewn leather panels for optimum detailing and quality; full tufting of all appropriate seams, and a heavy-grade leather saddle straps that color-match the upholstery. Both sides of the leather straps are finished for extra strength.
As you can see, the Barcelona chair is much more than a popular modern chair and much more than a best-seller product: it’s a transcendental design with a legendary history that has made it prevail for many decades as one of the most influential pieces of the Mid-Century Modern style.