Item #: U11493-20B. Black Barcelona Chair. CL Price: $269.90.
Item #: U11493-20W. White Barcelona Chair. CL Price: $269.90.
Item #: U11493-40B. Black Barcelona Loveseat. CL Price: $449.90.
Item #: U11493-40W. White Barcelona Loveseat. CL Price: $449.90.
So imagine our surprise when we stumbled onto a past history of their very designs! It goes all the way back to the late 20s and is quite interesting.
The story begins with a man by the name of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German architect, and a woman by the name of Lilly Reich, a German interior designer. Mies was born in 1886 and had a very modernist style to his designs, with deceptively simple and clean lines mixed with modern materials like stainless steel and plate glass. According to the British newspaper, The Independent, he referred to this style as "skin and bones" architecture.
Portrait of Mies van der Rohe. Photo courtesy of: http://d5u7p1d7v7rwy.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/238-1-mies-van-der-rohe.jpg.
Lilly Reich was a Berlin designer of textiles and women's clothing while she designed furniture. She was born in Berlin, Germany in 1885, and she closely collaborated with Mies for more than 10 years. She was the artistic director responsible for the German contribution to the 1929 World Arts Fair in Barcelona.
Portrait of Lilly Reich. Photo courtesy of: http://imgarcade.com/1/lilly-reich-architecture/.
Both she and Mies were an integral part of the Bauhaus art movement.
As part of his architectural passion, Mies very much understood that for a successful building interior, the furniture had to complement the design. As a result, he took a side interest in furniture design. So when the German government commissioned Mies to design the German Pavilion that would be featured at the 1929 World Arts Fair in Barcelona, he could help but think about the furniture that would go in it.
The permanent reconstruction of Mies' and Reich's Barcelona Pavilion. Photo courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona_Pavilion#/media/File:The_Barcelona_Pavilion,_Barcelona,_2010.jpg.
Since King Alfonso XIII and Queen Ena of Spain were going to walk through all of the exhibits, he thought it would be a good idea to set up chairs in case they needed a rest while they were visiting. But these couldn't be any ordinary chairs, they needed to be fit for a king and queen.
The chairs were inspired by two types of royal furniture. One was the Roman folding stool, a stool exclusively for Roman aristocrats. These were known as Curule seats and are where the look of the Barcelona chair's legs came from.
Depiction of an ancient Roman curule seat. Photo courtesy of: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Curule_chair,_sella_curulis,_Museo_Borbonico,_vol._vi._tav._28.gif.
Photo courtesy of: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/hsimidtermimagegroupforonlineclass-131021160108-phpapp01/95/hs-i-midterm-image-group-for-on-line-class-17-638.jpg?cb=1382389467.
The other was the ancient Egyptian folding chair.
Ancient Egyptian folding stool found in the tomb of official Kha, a foreman of works at Deir El-Medina. He worked under the reign of several pharoahs. Photo/info courtesy of: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/16530.
The Ceremonial Throne of King Tutankhamun of ancient Egypt. Photo/info courtesy of: http://www.egyking.info/2012/05/ceremonial-throne-of-tutankhamun.html.
The Barcelona chair's influences were supposed to bring to mind the image of a throne. The chair's name naturally came from its world debut at the World Arts Fair in Barcelona in 1929. It was originally pieced together with metal and goat skin, but in the 50s, Mies revisited it and redesigned it with stainless steel and leather. It has been a big seller all over the world ever since.
We're open every day from 9am to 6pm. So the next time you're around, check out our Barcelona chairs and loveseats and marvel at the amazing products that history has created.
- "Barcelona Chair History." Barcelona Chair. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fbarcelonachair.com%2Fbarcelona-chair-history%2F>.
- "Barcelona Chair." MoMA: The Collection. The Museum of Modern Art, 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=4369>.
- "Barcelona Chair." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona_chair>.
- "Classic Barcelona Chair And Pavilion By Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe." Barcelona Tourist Guide. Barcelona-tourist-guide.com, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/shopping/barcelona-chair.html>.
- "Lilly Reich." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilly_Reich>.
- Watson-Smyth, Kate. "The Secret History Of: The Barcelona Chair." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 27 May 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.independent.co.uk/property/interiors/the-secret-history-of-the-barcelona-chair-2289641.html>.