Barcelona Chairs

Written by Sarah Provost
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Today we know them as Barcelona chairs, those stunning creations of steel and leather designed by Mies van der Rohe. The chairs were originally created for the Deutscher Werkbund Pavilion at the Barcelona World Exposition in 1929. They were intended for the King and Queen of Spain to use when they visited the exposition, and sitting in them today will make you feel like royalty.

The Craftsmanship of Barcelona Chairs

The frames of these chairs are made of chrome-plated suspension steel, formed and welded in graceful arcs. The craftsmanship required to weld these joints with precision is almost as stunning as the original genius of the design. Though their appearance reflects the contemporary "industrial" aesthetic, Barcelona chairs are crafted almost entirely by hand.

The original version was covered with white leather. Though these days you can get Barcelona chairs in a variety of colors, authentic versions are always made of individually cut and sewn squares of leather. Each square is finished with self-piping, then joined to create the loose, foam-filled cushions, which rest on a lattice of saddle leather belt straps.

The Barcelona chair is probably the most recognizable and widely copied piece of contemporary furniture design in the world. Unlike much contemporary furniture of stunning design, it is also extremely comfortable, especially when paired with its matching ottoman. A true investment, the Barcelona chair is surprisingly affordable, especially considering the amount of hand labor that is its hallmark.

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