Barcelona Chairs

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The original Barcelona chairs were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 World's Fair in Barcelona. In 1929, they held the distinction of being the only works of furniture in the Exhibition. Moreover, the Barcelona chairs were housed in the Barcelona Pavilion, also designed by Mies van der Rohe, and were meant to seat the King and Queen of Spain.

Though the Barcelona chairs have endured and are still manufactured today, the Pavilion was dismantled a mere six months after opening in 1930. 56 years later, the Spanish government and the architects Ignasi de Sola-Morales, Cristian Cirici and Fernando Ramos completed reconstruction to Mies van der Rohe's original dimensions and materials specifications. Despite being physically nonexistent for most of the 20th century, the Pavilion has become a key reference point in modern architecture and design.

The Legacy of the Barcelona Chairs

The ideas and forms exemplified by the Barcelona chairs have also become central in much of contemporary design. The chairs, accompanied by a footstool and daybed, consist of leather pads situated on elegant, curved, tubular steel supports. Like the Barcelona Pavilion, they create a profile that sits low and balances horizontal elements with unobtrusive, luxurious curves.

Central to understanding Mies van der Rohe's work is his ideas that "less is more" and "God is in the details." He crafted space with love, never adopting the sometimes-harsh solidity of his contemporary, Le Corbusier. After 1930, Mies headed the Bauhaus for three years before moving to America and continuing to pursue his brand simplified, honest, universal architecture.

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