More about the Barcelona Chair
Reproductions of the first Barcelona Chairs in the reconstructed German Pavillion.
What might be called an original! Pre WWII Edition by Berliner Metallgewerbe Josef Müller. The example shown here sold in 1999 at Christies for $93.000.
Living room of the Tugendhat house in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Mies van der Rohe designed the furniture in close collaboration with his assistant Lilly Reich.
Barcelona Chairs in Philip Johnsons Glass House. Philip Johnson was an architect and the first director of the MoMA in New York
Despite its "machine made" appearance, the Barcelona Chair is almost 100% hand made. It was meant as a a true luxury item in its days, and this has not changed despite of the plethora of cheap copies flooding the market. They are crude and simply not worth buying.
The frames of a proper Barcelona Chair should be made of solid, mirror polished and chrome plated suspension steel. Achieving the seamless weldings requires extreme craftsmanship and extensive grinding and polishing before chrome plating.
After welding and grinding the seams, the frames have to be polished by hand and thoroughly degreased and rinsed...
... before getting electroplated with two coatings of nickel and one of chrome. The picture shows the final yellowchrome bath.
Using low grade stainless steel skips the above procedures saving substantially. The result however is a weak, yellowish construction which will bend over time and is prone to staining and corrosion despite the name "stainless". Proper high grade stainless steel is too expensive for being used to make cheap copies.
The same applies for leathers and upholstery materials.
The leather upholstery is made of individually cut, stitched and piped leather pieces. he pipings are made of nylon strings wrapped in leather.
And even each of the 24 buttons is made of a circular piece of matching leather and aluminium.
Such extensive labour demands its price. When the Barcelona Chair was first manufactured by "Metallgewerbe Joseph Müller" in Berlin it cost 520 Reichsmark. As a comparison, Mies van der Rohe as director of the Bauhaus was earning 5.000 Reichsmark per year at the same time.
Compared to this, the price at steelform.com in our days seems incredibly cheap, doesn't it?