Chair Fit for Royalty (02:59)
The German Pavilion at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition contained chairs designed by Mies van der Rohe for the king and queen of Spain. Their simple yet luxurious appearance made them an instant classic of 20th century furniture design.
Bauhaus School and Influence (03:05)
Van der Rohe was the last director of the German art school, the Bauhaus, before Adolf Hitler closed it in 1933. Students were taught that ordinary, mass-produced objects could be beautiful if well designed. Van der Rohe moved to America in 1937.
Early Chairs and Design Philosophy (03:17)
Van der Rohe’s maxim was “less is more.” His early chair designs included the MR chair, the cantilever chair, and the Brno chair. He believed furniture should be subject to the same chaste disciplines as the buildings for which it is designed.
Classic Modern Chairs (02:39)
The 19th century bentwood chair was the forerunner of classic modern chair design. Classic modern designs that are on par with Van der Rohe’s Barcelona include Gerrit Reitveld’s Red and Blue Chair, Le Corbusier’s chaise longue and Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chair.
Manufacturing Process (03:18)
Barcelona chairs are manufactured in America and Italy. The frames are made of stainless steel in America and chrome in Italy, like the originals of 1929. The only significant change since the chair’s launch is the use of foam filling instead of horsehair.
Exclusive vs. Mass Market Design (07:22)
Milan’s Memphis design group rejoices in using cheap and ephemeral materials; but ironically, its furniture is very expensive. Design moralists argue that the commercial operation of the marketplace keeps objects of the highest quality from being offered to everyone.
Credits: Design Classics: The Barcelona Chair (00:20)
Credits: Design Classics: The Barcelona Chair
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