The Barcelona chair is a chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. It was originally designed for theGerman Pavilion, that country’s entry for the International Exposition of 1929, which was 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 frame was initially designed to be bolted together, but was redesigned in 1950 using stainless steel, which allowed the frame to be formed by a seamless piece of metal, giving it a smoother appearance. Bovine leather replaced the ivory-colored pigskin which was used for the original pieces.
The functional design and elements of it that were patented by Mies in Germany, Spain and the United States in the 1930s have since expired. The Barcelona chair was manufactured in the US and Europe in limited production from the 1930s to the 1950s. In 1953, six years after Reich’s death, Mies ceded his rights and his name on the design to Knoll, knowing that his design patents were expired. This collaboration then renewed popularity in the design.
Knoll claims to be the current licensed manufacturer and holder of all trademark rights to the design. In 1965, Knoll purchased the trademark rights to the Barcelona word from Drexel. In 2004, Knoll received trade dress rights to the design from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Despite these trademarks, a large replica market continues. Gordon International New York has continued to manufacture the designs since the 1970s, even after a court battle against Knoll in 2005.In 2011, another court battle erupted between Knoll and RegencyShop.com; the outcome is pending. In 2013, RegencyShop.com filed a counter-suit against Knoll in Central District of California, Western Division alleging fraud on the USPTO regarding Barcelona furniture designs.