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Design classics: Knoll Barcelona chair

July 1, 2011

The Barcelona chair manufactured by Knoll was designed for the World Arts Fair held in Barcelona in 1929 and as it is still in production over 80 years later it has earned its place in our Design Classics series.

Ludwig Mies van de Rohe was born in 1886 and became one of the leading modernist architects of his time.  For 3 years in the 1930’s he was the director of the Bauhaus, the world renowned school of design located in Germany.  Mies understood that for there to be harmony in any building design, the correct furniture had to be used to complement the purpose of the building.

“The chair is a very difficult object. Everyone who has ever tried to make one knows that. There are endless possibilities and many problems – the chair has to be light, it has to be strong, it has to be comfortable. It is almost easier to build a sky scraper than a chair.” – Mies van der Rohe 1930

The German government asked Mies to design the German Pavilion at the World Arts Fair held in Barcelona in 1929.  The pavilion was built of glass, steel and four kinds of marble – the interior is shown above.  Mies understood that the furniture was just as important and he said that what he designed had to be “an important chair, a very elegant chair and costly. It had to be monumental. You couldn’t just use a kitchen chair”.

When the Pavilion was opened the Barcelona chairs were the only furniture in the whole building and they served as thrones when the King and Queen of Spain visited the Pavilion.  Their popularity from their debut continued through the 20th Century to the modern day, and they are still specified by architects and designers all over the world.

In 1953 Mies gave the exclusive manufacturing rights to Knoll Studio in Germany, and original versions of the chair can only be produced by Knoll.  These versions can easily be identified by the Knoll Studio logo and the Mies signature that is stamped onto the frame.  The chair is available in a wide range of Spinneybeck leather colours, although the black version remains the most iconic.

An original Barcelona chair by Knoll can add a classic touch to any home and fits perfectly into any contemporary interior.  Although there are many cheaper copies around, if you can, make an investment in an original – it will last a lifetime.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2011 4:12 pm

    This chair is amazing. It’s extremely modern and in a range on different colours can be perfect.

  2. July 13, 2011 9:10 am

    The Barcelona chair is one of those true design classics that never goes out of fashion. The Knoll chairs are pricey though, and you can pick up some very good replicas if you look in the right places. It’s nice to know that the price doesn’t have to put you off from owning a Barcelona chair altogether.

  3. August 12, 2011 12:29 pm

    I love Barcelona chair!!! Clean lines, sleekness are very comforting.. Thank you for the quick review – chairs that appear again and again in beautiful interiors. good information to know!
    It’s great collection of Barcelona chairs

  4. September 30, 2011 11:12 pm

    I have 2 of the original Knoll Barcelona chairs. My grandfather, Ralph Rapson, designed furniture for Knoll in the 50s, the chairs they make now are actually different dimensions than Mies’ originals. The two I have are the same height and width but the seat and back cushions are 1inch deeper and taller, respectively. My family owns the rights to the furniture he designed while working with Saarinen, Florence Knoll, Eames, Bertoia. His furniture is in the permanent collection of the MOMA. We don’t have a lounge quite like the Barcelona in production yet, but maybe soon. Check out his chairs, available for less than half the price of a Mies. Rapson Furniture – Iconic modern designs

  5. June 5, 2013 8:38 am

    With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation?

    My blog has a lot of unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any solutions to help reduce content from being ripped off? I’d truly appreciate it.

    • June 11, 2013 4:51 pm

      Unfortunately I don’t have a solution but I think you can find tools online?

  6. August 2, 2013 10:20 am

    The Knoll Barcelona chair is looking so modern and excellent design. It seems that it can provide comfort seating facility to us. Moreover, its structure is abnormal and very flexible in nature. I’m thinking that it might be light weighted to move it very easily and place wherever we want. The online shopping might be the right shopping way to own these kinds of chairs at sustainable prices. One shot two birds that is comfy furniture chair at fewer prices.

  7. February 14, 2014 1:24 am

    I гeally lijke reaɗinǥ through a post that will mak people think.
    Аlso, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

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