Few architects have left such a strong impression on the world of architecture and design as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Along with Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier he is regarded as one of the most significant influences of the modern design movement. One of his most significant creations was the unconventional Barcelona chair he created with Lilly Reich.
Designed in 1930 the chair with its unique design rose to prominence at the International Exposition of 1929. The Exposition was being hosted by the city of Barcelona in Spain when the chair was featured in the German Pavilion. The unusual marriage between modern and traditional elements quickly drew the attention of experts and design lovers the world over.
Mies was one of the most important directors of Bauhaus, a German school that combined crafts and fine arts. It was founded on a unique philosophy that all of the various arts could be combined in a greater sum of its parts. Elements of this philosophy can be found in architecture, graphic designs, typography and interior design.
The responsibility to present this unique school of thought became the responsibility of Mies. It was also during a crucial time following the First World War, where the German Weimar Republic wanted to present the world with a resuscitation of the German cultural phenomena.
The Barcelona Chair, Couch and Table had a regal element that was transposed flawlessly on a modern setting. The original designs were created with a frame that was made to be bolted together while the bovine leather gave it a plush luxurious feel.
However, the bolted frame work was later replaced with a seamless stainless steel design that is even smoother in appearance. The rich leather was latter replaced with an ivory colored pigskin that gave it a more modern and Spartan appearance.
The Barcelona chair was manufactured mainly in the US and Europe under the supervision of both Mies and Reich. In 1953, six years after the death of Mies, Reich sold the rights to the Barcelona design to the American manufacturing company Knoll. This association spurred the fame of the design to even greater heights. Text by Patrick Dante
To this day this unique creation maintains an element of intrinsic beauty that is hard to replicate. Despite the fact that the spirit of Bauhaus was to provide perfectly functional creations for the everyday man the Barcelona was undeniably a luxury item. It is said that Mies found his inspiration from the Curule chairs that ancient Roman aristocracy used. Truly this refined and elegant chair is undeniably fit for kings.
Text by Patrick Dante