An Iconic Form

Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Chair

When Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair was introduced in 1929 it was critically acclaimed but the cost and difficulty of chrome plating the frames limited production. By the early 1950s technology had caught up to Mies van der Rohe’s progressive furniture designs and both Knoll Associates and Gerald Griffith were producing his forms. Chairs produced by Knoll and Gerald Griffith can be distinguished by looking at the intersection of the base; works made by Gerald Griffith feature a crisp hard-edged intersection while versions by Knoll have a reinforced curved intersection.

The Mies van der Rohe office found Gerald Griffith in 1949. The challenge of creating the Barcelona chair in stainless steel - something engineers said could not be done - appealed to Griffith's tenacious personality. After much experimentation and exploration, Griffith completed the task and he produced Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona and Tugendhat designs in stainless steel for a number of years.

Gerald Griffith at work in his studio:







Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 1886–1969

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is one of the most celebrated modernist architects of the twentieth century, known for developing the International Style in Germany and abroad, which emphasized function, balance, clean lines and the use of glass and steel.

Mies van der Rohe was born in 1886 in Aachen, Germany, a center of heavy industry. His father was a stonecutter and Mies, who was never formally trained in architecture, often worked with his father, developing his exceptional sensitivity to materials at a young age. At 15, he apprenticed with several architectural firms in Aachen, and in 1905 he moved to Berlin to work for architect and furniture designer Bruno Paul. He received his first independent commission in 1907, the Riehl House in Postdam, and it caught the attention of Peter Behrens, the most progressive architect of the era. Mies joined the firm, where he met Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, who were also working under Behrens. From 1915 to 1918, he served in the war and, upon returning to Berlin, became involved in the very active artistic scene of the 1920s, when Bauhaus De Stijl and Expressionism were all emerging. In 1924, Mies met Lilly Reich, whom he collaborated and was involved with for many years; together, they designed the Barcelona chair, which debuted at the Mies-designed Germany pavilion for the World’s Fair in 1929 and is now regarded as one of the most iconic designs of the modern era.

Auction Results Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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