The Barcelona chair, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the German Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929 for use by the Spanish Elite, quickly became an icon of modern style and has remained one to this day. Rohe was said to be inspired by ancient Egyptian and Roman design when conceptualizing the chair. He was fully aware of the significance of the event. Mies famously said that he would design "an important chair, a very elegant chair and costly. It had to be monumental. You couldn't just use a kitchen chair."
Its clean lines provide a sleek, elegant yet somewhat casual look that blends seamlessly into any setting. Since the 1950’s, Knoll has claimed the sole rights to manufacture this design, although this claim has and is being disputed in court. So, what’s the difference between Knoll’s “trademarked” Barcelona chair and a replica?
The Knoll Barcelona chair is available with either a chrome or a stainless steel frame. Both are hand-ground and hand-buffed, with the signature of one of the original designers, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, stamped into the frame. This chair is available in four different grades of leather and in an astonishing array of colors. The leather panels and buttons are crafted from a single hide, and they are both hand-tufted and hand-welted to form the upholstered cushions. The strapping, which supplies the support for the cushions, is laminated to match. A coordinating footstool is also available separately.
This replica Barcelona chair has a hand-polished stainless steel frame. It is available in 2 different grades of imported leather and in eight classic colors. There are strong cowhide straps for comfortable support that will last for years. The chair also comes as a set with a matching footstool. Replacement cushions are available, and a coupon for $100 dollars off the cost of replacements comes with the chair purchase.
Both chairs are identical in style and similar in materials. So where’s the difference? Price and delivery…and the difference is huge! The “real” Barcelona chair ranges in price from $5429 to $7304, depending on which grade of leather is chosen for the cushions. The “Quickship” chair [basic black leather only] has a delivery time of 4-5 weeks. Any other versions of the chair will take 6-12 weeks. The footstool adds another $2567 to $3464 on top of that, with identical delivery times. The Knoll chair and footstool are both non-cancellable and non-returnable orders. In contrast, the Barcelona chair reproduction runs from $699 to $799 in price, including free shipping.
In summary, the “real” Barcelona chair is virtually completely hand-made and available in just about any color you could imagine. It’s the right choice for you if you must have an unusual color, can pay the high price tag, and can wait 3 months for delivery. But, be very sure of your choice because you can’t exchange it! The replica Barcelona chair is made from the same materials at a fraction of the cost, and it’s delivered in a fraction of the time. You won’t have a signature on the frame or a dent in your wallet, but you’ll have your chair in your living room in about a week!