Chairs, decor

The Barcelona Chair – A True Design Icon



The Barcelona Chair

The Barcelona Chair, often referred to as the Pavilion Chair, was designed specifically for the Barcelona Pavilion in 1929 and is an iconic modernist design that, while incredibly popular in its time, is still greatly admired for its true sense of style. We take a look at the history of this incredible design. 


With a romantic heritage, the chair was a collaboration between lovers Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. Although Van der Rohe has taken the claim to fame, many believe that the design was strongly influenced by Lilly Reich. This trend may have continued with one of Van der Rohe's classic designs, the Barcelona Couch.


Even though Van der Rohe was famed for his modernist architecture, rather than furniture, he was commissioned to design the Barcelona Pavilion, originally named the German Pavilion. Combining his architectural experience in Germany with furniture design, he created a showcase of post-WW1 architecture, thus aligning furniture and architecture.

This merging of design forms is apparent in the Barcelona Chair as it mimics the modern and industrial movement of architecture. A set of two Barcelona Chairs was designed for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona for King Alfonso XIII of Spain and his wife for when they would visit the Barcelona Pavilion. Unfortunately, the royals never made it to the pavilion.

What now?

The exclusive manufacturing and sales rights of the Barcelona Chair were accorded to Knoll in 1953 and, as with many iconic design pieces, there are many replicas in circulation today. To ensure you have a signature KnollStudio design, produced according to Van der Rohe's original specifications, look for the KnollStudio logo and the signature of Mies van der Rohe stamped on the base of the chair. Be prepared to break the bank, though – one of these would cost a hefty €4 960 (about R72 658), excluding shipping.

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