The Exposition Chair, also called the Barcelona chair replica is Barcelona Design’s premium reproduction of the beloved midcenturylounge chair. The acclaimed designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe constructed this marvelous chair for the 1929 International Exposition in architecture in Barcelona. Hence, it was named the Barcelona chair and also dubbed the Exposition chair. Besides these salient facts, the Barcelona chair has several other, lesser known facts that add to its distinctiveness. Embedded in a unique history as the representative of Germany in the Exposition, (Mies van der Rohe originated from Germany) the Barcelona Chair has managed to withstand the test of time and is as ever-beloved in the present as it was in the midcentury. The following are some unique facts that you have probably not known about the Barcelona Chair.
The Star of the Show
Mies van der Rohe was originally commissioned with building the German Pavilion for the German entry of the International Exposition. During the Exposition, it was completely empty, save for the Barcelona chair. So while the Spanish royals and other members of European governments browsed the Pavilion, basking in its glass, steel and marble construction, the interior left a lot to be desired. The only piece of furniture was the Barcelona chair, specifically created for the Spanish king and queen to use lest they would tire of walking about the pavilion.
The Barcelona Chair’s Comparison to the iMac
The Barcelona chair is to design what the iMac is to computers. The impact of this chair in the design world was that monumental. Its design captures agelessness and eccentricity without hiding its functionality as that of a lounge chair. It is thus brimming with sophistication and can work in countless design schemes. Like the iMac, it provides simplicity of function, in its case, sitting between thickly-cushioned surfaces. Also like the iMac, its design and ease of use make it groundbreaking; it has achieved icon status.
It represents the Bauhaus style but contradicts it
Mies van der Rohewas renowned for his contribution to the Bauhaus movement sweeping Germany, Europe and the United States in the midcentury. This began as the Bauhaus school which taught principles of design, such that combine the artistry of the arts and crafts movement with the functionality in manufacturing. Essentially the point was to bring more soulfulness into architecture and design. Mies van der Rohe had even come to direct the school. While the Barcelona chair bears much of the stylistic traits of the Bauhaus movement such as geometric design, simplicity, handcrafting and an anti-ornamental look, it has also become a kind of anti-Bauhaus chair. Bauhaus sought to produce functional furniture, pieces that could easily be mass-produced and available for low prices for laborers and the everyday person. The Barcelona chair, on the contrary, is difficult to mass produce and is expensive. Quality should come first, so paying a price of $900 is well worth the iconic chair.
Its Composition was Changed Which Drastically Changed its Cost
The Barcelona chair was never intended to be a bargain chair, given that it was designed for royalty. However, a major change to its construction was responsible for extending its price tag and making it difficult to mass produce. In 1950, Mies van der Rohe upgraded the Barcelona chair with a redesigning of both the body’s exterior and the material of the legs and frame. The original pigskin exterior was replaced with cow leather while the legs, which were originally fastened together by different metals, were put together by a single piece of stainless steel. Stainless steel is more fluid and glossy, which explains the surge in price.
The Designer of the Chair May not have been Mies van der Rohe
Although Mies van der Rohe receives the most credit for designing the Barcelona chair, he did not design it alone. In fact, design scholars and those who were close to Mies argue that the bulk of the design for the Barcelona chair was engineered by Lily Reich. Lily was Mies van der Rohe’s lover and design partner for a short period of time before Mies left for America. Lily Reich was an architect and furniture designer who had worked with the prestigious Deutsch Werkbund, a modernist design organization that preceded the Bauhaus movement. She was known by those around her as being detail-oriented and focused on executing. Mies was more of a conceptualist. He’d never had any successful furniture pieces on the scale of the Barcelona chair’s before meeting Lily and after having parted ways with her. It has led some to believe that she may have been more responsible for the BArelona chair’s design that was Mies. Lily Reich has generally received less credit and praise for her involvement in the chair, as it was not a traditional role for women in the midcentury and Mies had already established himself as an architect.