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Great Design Monday: 'Barcelona' Chair

shoutOut on 15/10/12 by travis.lyle1 in peeps

The Barcelona Chair: it's a style icon which few other furniture designs can match, in either its economic use of materials or simplicity of design. By taking its inspiration from an ancient design which was informed by function rather than form, and adding a modern and comfortable seating structure to this undercarriage, a modern interpretation has become one of the most sought-after pieces of furniture design of all time. And is it comfortable? Very.

Designed by the legendary pioneer architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, this is a design that has enjoyed massive popularity since it was launched at the German Pavilion of the International Exposition of 1929 in Barcelona, a building whose style the chair was designed to compliment. Now called the 'Barcelona' chair, the chair was originally designed to be bolted together and covered with ivory-coloured pigskin. Once the design patents expired, this changed: the new license-holders and present official makers of the chair (Knoll) now produce the chair with a seamless stainless steel frame, and make use of 24 separate pieces of hand-stamped cow's leather to create the cushion panels, and 8 hand-cut leather straps on each cushion which are attached in a way that shows no fixing points.

Whichever the way it's made, the clean lines of the design continue to attract fans and buyers: so much so, that Knoll has been involved in longstanding legal battles with unauthorised manufacturers. For those wishing to be able to identify an original chair, there are a few pointers: each authentic piece has both a serial number and the name of the person who assembled the chair on the underside of the right front leg. In addition to this, Mies van der Rohe's signature is also stamped on the back into the steel.


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