The Barcelona chair, which is considered to be a modern classic and one of the most elegant chairs of the 20th century, was designed by Mies van der Rohe. He designed the chair at the International Exposition in Barcelona in 1929. Mies van der Rohe drew inspiration for his design from an Egyptian folding chair and a Roman folding stool. The chair was created to replicate a throne and made its first appearance during the inaugural ceremony by the Spanish royal family at the exposition. The chair exudes grandeur and class and at the same time it is light and strong. The Barcelona chair is considered by common consensus to be the pinnacle of a harmonized approach to materials, design, and workmanship.
In 1950, the original design was improved upon by Mies which resulted in a fully welded object in which additional braces at the welding points were eliminated. The one-piece frame made of stainless steel offered higher strength and spring.
In the United States, the design was popularized by George Nelson. The chair was originally hand-made but was subsequently mass produced and marketed by the company, Knoll Associates, which now manufactures it in the U.S and 29 other countries.
Two connected pairs of crossed steel bars constitute the framework of the chair; the front and back legs of the chair are curved, the back legs cross the front legs to form a double curve that supports the seat. Foam-rubber cushions are covered with buttoned leather and placed on the seat and the back by means of saddle-leather straps.
The Barcelona chair is sold by various furniture stores; several of these have online catalogs, which a prospective buyer can browse through. Although, there are several renditions of the Barcelona chair available in the market, they are usually made from chromed stainless steel with the single-piece frame being hand-buffed till a mirror finish is achieved. The upholstery consists of individual leather panels, 40 in number, which may be hand-welted and hand-tufted. In order to maintain the uniformity of appearance and texture, the leather panels are crafted from a single hide. The most favored colors are tan and black.
Even though the Barcelona chair has a modular look that suggests mass production, its craftsmanship requires all the virtues associated with a handcrafted masterpiece. The Barcelona chair is a piece of sculpture and finds extensive use in waiting rooms and foyers. This piece of luxury furniture can cost upward of $ 1000.