Brno Chairs

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The Brno chairs are unarguably one of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's greatest achievements in furniture. Designed in 1930 for the Tugendhat house in the city of Brno in the modern-day Czech Republic, the chairs represent all of the elegance of his other, contemporary works in a more relaxed, personal setting. The Brno chairs, like the rest of the Tugendhat house, balance simple, Miesian modernism with a slight touch of luxury.

In the Tugendhat house, those touches of luxury are evident in Mies van der Rohe's choice of wall materials and textiles. The house retains some of the design elements of the Barcelona Pavilion from a few year prior, such as the marble walls and interior glass partitions. By incorporating white wool carpeting and a single curved wall, the house is transformed into a space that is more easily recognized as domestic, leaving behind some of the austerity of the Pavilion.

The Brno chairs, when compared to their Barcelona series cousins, function similarly. They are constructed from two leather pads that are suspended on a steel frame in a cantilevered design. The simplicity of the Brno cushions contrasts the elegance of the Barcelona cushions, and the flat bars or tubular supports are much more casual than the scissor design of the Barcelona series.

Echoes of the Tugendhat House in the Brno Chairs

The Tugendhat house itself is also echoed in the Brno chair's cantilevered structure; the house, a two story building of white concrete, sits on the side of a small hill, where the concrete second story appears to float over the large glass windows that encircle the first floor. This gives the entire house a cantilevered appearance from the exterior, though in fact it is supported with thin, cruciform columns just inside the exterior wall.


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