Sexy as hell, an icon of the modern movement and one of my personal favourite pieces – the Knoll Barcelona chair designed by Mies van der Rohe – is a star performer in Tron: Legacy‘s digital world “Safehouse”. It’s one of the many films this stunning chair has been featured in, including a Bond or two.
It’s an interesting choice by Production Designer Darren Gilford in his mission to create the digital-age decor for Tron, given that the chair was in fact designed in 1929. This is testament to the fact it’s a timeless classic and a genuine furniture icon.
Get this – the Barcelona chair is available in no less than 1000 different leather options. The icy white Barcelona beauties seen in Tron compliment the fact that everything in the Safehouse glows, including the floor (the futuristic illuminated glass panel flooring and mix of Rococo-style furniture bears more than a passing nod to Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey don’t you think?).
The real deal
There are many wanna-be Barcelona’s out there but here’s how to spot the genuine Knoll article:
– An original is upholstered with 40 individual panels which are cut, hand-welted, and hand-tufted with leather buttons produced from a single cowhide (imitations tend to use one piece of material as it’s cheaper). 17 straps are used for cushion support
– The frame is premium grade 304 bar stock stainless steel hand-buffed to a mirror finish
– The KnollStudio logo and signature of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe are stamped into the leg.
Did you know?
– This Chair was designed to provide a comfortable break for the King of Spain as he visited the German Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929 hosted by Barcelona, Spain. It was first used in Villa Tugendhat, a masterpiece of Mies van der Rohe in the City of Brno (Czech Republic).
– The design, with its signature crisscross frames, is thought to be based on the campaign chairs of Ancient Rome. Mies: “I feel that it must be possible to harmonize the old and new in our civilization.”
– Mies van der Rohe was the last director of the Bauhaus before the Nazis closed the school and he fled to America.
– Its now been recognised that the design was a collaboration between Lilly Reich, Mies’ long time partner and companion, who did not clamour for recognition.
It just gets better
It has sometimes been said that the Barcelona chair is more of a status symbol than a comfortable resting place (illustrated by the many HQ’s and banks that display them proudly in their cavernous marble-floored receptions). However, I popped along to the Knoll London showroom for the launch of the new Relax collection earlier this week, which includes Barcelona Relax. This version is based on an original American version not officially available in the UK before, which interestingly has thicker foam in the cushion, is slightly more curvaceous and softer, and I confirm it is a very comfortable seat indeed. Here’s some snaps of my trip to the Knoll Relax launch earlier this week:
So where can I get one?
If you’re after a vintage version, Pamono currently have this (shown below) original white leather Barcelona chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, produced by Fasem in Italy in 1989 (licensed to produce) priced at £1604.
Vintage Barcelona chairs are also often available via Etsy.
The Barcelona chair also comes in very cute miniature form (the construction, materials and colours correspond perfectly to the historical Vitra Design Museum Collection original) from Conran for £315
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Remember folks: “God is in the details.” Mies van der Rohe