During the weekend, I started sketching the Barcelona Chair and suddenly, I was struck by a question of “what would the past look like if we had to incorporate one thing from today’s technology?” I started looking at the characteristics and the structure of the acclaimed Chair, and how it achieves the refinement of proportions of Mies Van Der Rohe’s highly disciplined architecture.
:: About the Architect :: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), a German-born architect and educator, is widely known as one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. He helped define modern architecture by simplifying the design and emphasizing on open space while revealing the industrial materials used in construction.
:: About the Chair :: The Barcelona chair was exclusively designed for the Barcelona Pavilion for the International Exposition in 1929. Mies designed the chair with his partner, interior designer Lilly Reich. The chair is supported on each side by two chrome-plated, flat steel bars. Seen from the side, the single curve of the bar forming the chair’s back and front legs crosses the S-curve of the bar forming the seat and back legs, making an intersection of the two.
The design solution to the question would vary depending on what technology would be incorporated into the chair; also each designer would naturally come up with different variations. To come up with one solution, I incorporated an I-pad to the chair and then, followed Mies’ proportion theory by extending the seat along the circle 2 and also, adding a fourth circle, (same radius as circle 1) to include the I-pad. The reason that I added an I-pad is because, these famous chairs are usually used in waiting lobby areas, that usually provide one big TV for everyone; and with the rise of personal preferences, we can easily pair the Bluetooth of our smart phones and headphones to the chair then, sit back and enjoy our favorite program.
The Barcelona Chair plus the I-pad, becomes I-Barcelona Chair. I merely did this practice to challenge myself by re-imagining the past, with today’s technology. This question was inspired by one of my favorite Netflix shows “Black Mirror.” I am going to keep trying to do this with other influential historical designs as well and turn it into a series. If you also try this challenge, shoot me an email, I would like to see your solution to the question as well.
A sketch/collage of Barcelona Pavilion with the I-Barcelona chair =)