In 1929, modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and longtime collaborator, the designer Lilly Reich created a range of furniture, including The Barcelona Chair to grace the German pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. (The pavilion, recreated, is still in Barcelona, just outside the National Museum)
The Barcelona Chair was inspired by the Curule Chair – an upholstered folding chair favoured by the Roman aristocracy in antiquity,
This was entirely appropriate as the intention – apart from showing off the latest in German design – was to offer comfort to the Spanish Royal Family if the need arose for them to take the weight off their royal feet while touring the exposition. This proved unnecessary but was in no way due to a deficiency in the furniture….
The Barcelona chair has probably been featured in in more movies than James Bond and certainly did it’s best to upstage him in Casino Royale featured below, along with Iron Man, Tron and Twilight to name but a few.
In more or less continuous production ever since, the current official incarnation of the Barcelona Chair is available at a suitably regal price (something over £5,000) from upscale retailers such as Heals.
The design has changed a little over the years, with leather replacing the original pigskin upholstery and the initial bolted together assembly now a one piece welded stainless steel frame but the shape and presence of the chair is the same now as it was then.
The Barcelona Chair was hailed as a classic from the start. It still is. To find out about other similar design classics, check out our article on the Eames Lounge Chair