Despite being one of the best known, most iconic – and sadly most widely copied – furniture design classic, the Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe was never intended to go into serial production.
Commissioned to design the German Pavilion for the 1929 World’s Fair in Barcelona, Mies van der Rohe also created a small range of furniture pieces for his building; a table, a stool and a chair.
For him that was the job done, although a small numbers of the objects were produced to order by the Berlin metal workshop Joseph Müller.
Following the second World War Florence Knoll persuaded her husband Hans Knoll that their, still, youthful furniture company could benefit from producing furniture created by many of the Bauhaus / Modernist architects currently involved in re-defining the New York skyline with their towering office blocks.
The great advantage that Knoll Associates had was that Florence Knoll had personal friendships with many of the major players from her time as a student at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
And so while Mies van der Rohe was initially very, very reluctant to let his Barcelona Chair be produced – the personal assurances given to him by Florence, particularly as regards the colours in which the chair would be made available, won his trust. And his subsequent approval for the serial production.
And the rest is, as they say….
The example on display in the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig was made in Berlin in 1930 and so belongs to the very original, pre Knoll Associates, wave of Barcelona chairs produced.