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Very Rare Pair of 1947-1954 Production Mies van der Rohe ''Barcelona'' Chairs


A pair of pre-Knoll production Barcelona chairs These 'screwed' Barcelona chairs where made before Knoll put this chair in production in 1954 Provenance: From a Dutch collection Source: Vitra Design Museum In 1954, Knoll International commenced production of the chair based on a drawing from 1951. Detailed examinations of the chair with X-ray analysis and other technologies were conducted by Friederike Deuerler, Professor of Safety Technology and Materials Research at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal. These studies revealed that the methods used to manufacture the chair have been constantly modified over the years, and in most cases, simplified. For example, the connections between the side members and lateral cross bars were fabricated in the pre-war period with several pieces: steel connecting pieces were brazed or riveted to the narrow sides of the chair’s side members. The horizontal bars, consisting of brass U-sections with steel inlays, were inserted over the connecting pieces and screwed to them from the front. Between 1953 and 1955, Knoll International constructed the connections with rabbeted lap joints, and from 1955-1958 as simple corner laps. For the rabbeted lap joints, steel lugs with half the thickness of the cross bars were welded to the side members of the chair and then screwed to the rabbeted ends of the cross bars. The method with corner laps is similar — however, this connection sits directly on the side members of the chair. With respect to stability, the overlap joint is inferior, since it does not prevent deformation of the frame under high loads. In addition, the reduction of the material’s thickness reduces the stability of the chair. A stronger joint solution was developed by the Stiegler company in 1958. New connecting pieces were cut to form a double rabbet, tapped for screws and welded onto the side members. The cross bars were rabbeted to match and joined to the side members with Allen screws. The Barcelona chair is a prime example of the effects that changes in production methods, especially when motivated by rationalization or cost reduction, can have on both the structural and aesthetic quality of an object. Additional screws or seams contradict the principle of simplicity that is essential to this chair‘s design. Pure, uninterrupted surfaces, on the other hand, evoke a feeling of sublimity. In this sense, less is more.


  • Period
  • Materials and techniques
  • Condition
    Good. Good original vintage condition with chrome loss on 1 chair and pitting on the chrome on the other chair, wear consistent with age and use. Leather strapping has been renewed but the cushions are missing.
  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions

    H 29.14 in. x W 29.14 in. x D 29.34 in.

    H 74 cm x W 74 cm x D 74.5 cm

  • Seat height
    13.98 in. (35.5 cm)
  • Seller location
    bergen op zoom, NL
  • Sold As
    Set of 2
  • Reference number

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About Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Designer)

Architect, furniture designer and educator, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a central figure in the advancement and promotion of Modernist design and architectural theory and practice. Like Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, he was a hugely influential presence in the field, who shaped the course of 20th-century architecture both through his buildings and his teaching of rationalist design principles.

     Born in the medieval German city of Aachen, Mies found an interest in architecture as a boy while working for his father, a master stonemason. He had no formal education as an architect, but learned his skills as an apprentice to the designer Bruno Paul, and as a staffer in the office the proto-modernist architect and designer Peter Behrens. Following World War I, Mies rose to prominence in his field amid the liberal atmosphere of the Weimar Republic. His reputation was secured by his design for the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona (commonly referred to as his Barcelona Pavilion), a radically simple, poetic, open-plan building pared down to its architectural essentials. Mies would go on to direct the Bauhaus from 1930 until 1933, when Nazi-government interference forced the closure of the progressive art and design school. Later that decade, he made his way to Chicago, where he remained for the rest of his career as a practicing architect and a dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

     Mies’s famed dictum “less is more” grew from his belief that architecture both guides and expresses the spirit of the times, and he envisioned the 20th century as open-minded, logical, transparent and liberated by technology. His best-known buildings — residences such as the Villa Tugendhat in Czechoslovakia and the Farnsworth House in rural Illinois; skyscrapers like the 860–880 Lake Shore Drive apartment towers in Chicago and the Seagram Building in New York — reflect that philosophy. As do his most famous furniture designs. Mies pieces such as the Barcelona chair, chaise and stools, or the cantilevered Brno chairs, deliver a maximum of comfort and support from a minimum of materials: their “lavishness” derives from the precision with which they are engineered and constructed. For the collector, the allure of Mies’s furniture is at once practical and idealistic. Useful and functional, his works embody the highest aspirations of modernism.

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