There it was, the Barcelona Chair, an icon of the modern movement, in all its simple elegance. The pigskin used for the original pieces have since been replaced by bovine leather, and the frame now formed a seamless metal to give it a smooth appearance.
Designed by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the Spanish royalty at the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain, the Barcelona Chair, during its time, was subjected to much analysis and reviews—how can a chair for the royalty be designed without an arm?
Mies, one of the last figures of the Bauhaus movement, was one of the pioneers of modern architecture. At his peak, he was considered a rock star among architects and designers, combining precise craftsmanship with fine arts. Some of his most important works, including the Barcelona Chair, is now on permanent exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) in New York.
(Knoll International, which manufactures the Barcelona Chair, is among the few furniture companies in the world to have many products, more than 40, on permanent exhibit at the Moma.)
“The Barcelona Chair is the modern version of the throne,” said Andrea Resmini, Knoll Studio area manager, Asia-Pacific, in an interview with Lifestyle. “Gone were the days when thrones had to be big and decorative. It was replaced by something simpler and elegant.”
Knoll is a design firm that Hans Knoll and his wife Florence founded in 1938—a time when people were moving to America.
“Knoll comes from a family of furniture-makers in Germany,” Resmini said. “He knew how to make furniture but needed art direction. That’s where his wife comes in.”
Florence, an American architect and furniture designer, brought in the designers and gave the company its much-needed art direction.
Among Knoll’s designers are Frank Gehry, Maya Lin, Harry Bertoia, Mies, Florence and Eero Saarinen.
Today Knoll produces office systems and home furnishings.
“If you’re talking about the office of an executive, it must be of some kind of a finishing. If it’s something for the home, it must be cozy and warm. If you think about Knoll, it’s modern architectural because behind every piece there is an architect,” Resmini said.
The 50th-anniversary edition of the Platner Collection comes in 18k gold-plated finish option. Plated in Italy, it is available for the lounge chair, armchair, stool, dining table, coffee table and side table.
Designed in 1966 by architect Warren Platner, the original nickel-plated steel was initially intended to come out in gold finish, but technology at the time rendered a large-scale production impossible. The 2015 Platner Gold issue fulfills the architect’s original wish.
“This goes beyond fashion because this will last,” said Resmini. “These will become generational products.”
Aside from its iconic designs, Knoll also rolled out new collections that reaffirm the creative vision which has made the company a world-famous brand. There’s the collaboration between Knoll and Piero Lissoni, an Italian architect and designer known for contemporary furniture design. Its collection of tables expresses the perfect balance between modernity and tradition.
Knoll also features an enhanced Avio Sofa System, an innovative system of upholstered furniture with a relaxed and informal style, using metal structures and soft cushions with clean lines concealing the complex workings and aesthetic details.
“The Knoll approach is to study the social evolution from countryside to the office,” Resmini said. “People used to spend more time in the country and then more time in the office in the 1930s. If you visit a Silicon Valley office today, you can see people working on couches.”
Knoll is distributed in the Philippines by Living Innovations, the same company that introduced Bulthaup and Minotti to the country 15 years ago, when it was unheard of to buy home furnishing for the price of a car.
“We’re just here to remind people of the things they somehow overlooked,” said Ferdinand Ong, general manager of Living Innovations. “We have a lot of products [displayed] in Moma. “These are really collector’s items.”
Living Innovations, G/F Fort Victoria, 5th Ave. corner 23rd St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Call 8288722, 8122649 and 8302230. Visit www.livinginnovations.ph.