BLOG INDEX symbol site 07 JULY 2022


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One glance is enough to recognize the Barcelona chair by Knoll, thanks to its distinct features that make it an authentic icon of the modern movement, the result of the masterpiece of the designer and architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Not surprisingly, his famous motto "less is more" is perfectly summarized in Barcelona: few but perfectly recognizable elements, from the stainless steel structure to the squared pattern of the cushion, which make the armchair a timeless classic capable of surviving for decades and inspire the birth of other products over time.



Although prestigious, the titles of architect or designer are more than reductive to describe the life and career of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, born in Aachen in 1886. The years of his childhood were spent mainly in the workshop of his father, a stonemason by trade. , in which the young man begins to cultivate a passion for drawing by hand, before working for some local artisans and then dealing with stucco decorations in the early 1900s at Max Fisher, as well as trying his hand, once he moved to Berlin, as furniture designer at Bruno Paul.

Mies van der Rohe's career then developed through a series of prestigious collaborations, such as the one that saw him joining the architecture studio of Peter Behrens, up to the 1920s, when he joined the Novembergruppe association of artists, within which he defines the cornerstones of the modernist movement, contrary to the German architectural trend of the time that winked at historical styles.

It is at this stage that some projects that were never completed, such as the first glass skyscrapers, are the result of attentive reflections on the possible use of this material for the construction of buildings, which will later materialize in one of the residences designed within the Weissenhof district in Stuttgart on commission from the Deutsche Werkbund.

1929 is another key year for Mies, who oversees the design of the universal pavilion for the Barcelona exhibition and designs the famous Barcelona Chair, of which Knoll acquired the production rights over 20 years later.

From 1937 he moved to the United States, where he taught at the Armor Institute of Technology for 20 years and continued to experiment with his ideas, enclosed by the motto "less is more", which summarizes his vision of minimal architecture. Following this style, he has designed various historic buildings over the years, from the Farnsworth House to the IBM Building, up to the Seagram Building in New York, a glass skyscraper still today among the most iconic in the Big Apple.

Before his death in 1969 in Chicago, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had time to obtain prestigious awards, such as the Orden Pour le Mérite for his career, received in Germany, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States. .



The Barcelona Chair perfectly embodies the concept of "timeless classic" precisely because the few elements from which it is made, as well as the combination of elegance and simplicity that characterizes it, remain modern despite the passage of time, making the armchair suitable for any context. .

Born as a seat able to welcome the royals at the 1929 Exposition held in the Spanish city of the same name, and therefore suitable for the "rest of a king", as declared by Ludwig Mies himself, Barcelona has become a real symbol of the modern movement, although inspired by a stool widespread in ancient Rome with a curved saddle and four legs crossed in an X shape. Despite the ancient reference, the great formal purity meant that Barcelona enjoyed immense success, and that its production was never discontinued from 1930 until today.

Over the decades, of course, the armchair has been updated using the most advanced techniques and materials, such as steel or the use of pigskin first and then bovine leather for the upholstery of the squared cushion. All this, always remaining faithful to a design which, although conceived in the distant 1930s, is still considered modern today.



To recognize the real Barcelona armchair, it is possible to refer, in addition to the inimitable style, to the Knoll Studio logo and the signature of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe that are present on the structure of each authentic piece.

Among the other distinctive features there are then the precise structure in chromed steel, the leather straps that support the seat and back, always remaining well stretched, and the characteristic leather cushions made up of 20 squares, each of which is sewn individually. By entrusting yourself to these details, you will be sure to be in front of an original Barcelona chair.

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