Barcelona chair v Egg and Swan – the greatest chair on earth?
Van der Rohe Barcelona chair Mies van der Rohe
Van deer Rohe chair
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Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe.
High polished stainless steel of best quality
Made of individual leather squares of finest aniline leather
75 x 75 x 75 cm
The Barcelona chair was exclusively designed for the German Pavilion, that country’s entry for the International Exposition of 1929, which was hosted by Barcelona, Spain. The design resulted from collaboration between the famous Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his longtime partner and companion, architect and designer Lilly Reich, whose contributions have only recently been acknowledged. An icon of modernism, the chair’s design was inspired by the campaign and folding chairs of ancient times.
ARNE JACOBSEN (1902-1971) was one of Denmark’s most influential 20th century architects and designers. Both his buildings and products, like his Swan and Egg Chairs, combine modernist ideals with a Nordic love of naturalism.
When a Dane who spoke very little English and seldom left his Copenhagen studio was commissioned in 1958 to design a new college for Oxford University, one eminent architect sent a letter to The Times describing it as the worst insult to British architecture since the 11th century when a Frenchman had been entrusted with the rebuilding of Canterbury Cathedral.
Undeterred, the dons pressed ahead with the commission and Arne Jacobsen started work on the design of St Catherine’s College. Jacobsen believed that the design of every element of a building had to be harmonious – down to the doorknobs. He insisted on adding a clause to his contract stating that: “Professor Jacobsen should undertake as much as possible of the landscape design and the design of fixtures and fittings.”
Jacobsen interpreted this as being given carte blanche to obsess over everything from the exact shade of grey for the curtains, to the height of the cedar trees he planted in the quadrangle and the combination of fish – chub and golden orfe – to be placed in the pond. The result is a completely coherent, perfectly proportioned, yet very gracious campus: the design of which has remained more or less unchanged since its completion in 1963.
As an architect and an industrial designer, Jacobsen always strove to achieve this grace and coherence. In the process, he emerged as the single most influential Danish architect of the 20th century and the designer of such modernist classics as the Swan, Egg and Ant Chairs as well as the stainless steel, abstract-shaped cutlery which the director Stanley Kubrick chose as timelessly futuristic props for his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.