How to Tell a Fake Barcelona Chair

Written by lane cummings
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How to Tell a Fake Barcelona Chair
The leather of a real Barcelona chair should be extremely soft and supple. (Leder 2 image by Edwar Xie from

The famous Barcelona chair is a distinctive piece of modernist furniture designed by the artistic alliance of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his partner Lilly Reich. Together, they created the chair in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition. The simplicity of ancient chairs of early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans inspired the chair and, according to the website "The JetSetRnv8r," the understated elegance of the chair "...made it an instant symbol of the fledgling modernist movement and it became an immediate sensation." However, like so many luxury items, imitators copy the Barcelona chair. There are, however, telltale signs that can help you detect these fakes.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Measure the dimensions of the chair with a tape measure, as fakes are often smaller or simply disproportional. An authentic Barcelona chair should be 30 inches high, 30 inches deep, 29.5 inches wide, with a seat height of 17 inches.

  2. 2

    Examine the back legs of the chair. One of them should bear a stamp upon the metal that says "Knoll Studio" and next to it the signature of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. A chair missing these engravings is a guaranteed fake.

  3. 3

    Touch and look at the leather. The leather should feel soft and supple, not rigid and inflexible. It should also be completely matt; shiny leather is often a sign of a fake.

  4. 4

    Check the price. The official price for a new Barcelona chair is £2,653 for one with a chrome plated frame and £4,052 for one with polished silver. You can get vintage chairs at auction for as low as £1,950, but anything priced lower than that is most likely inauthentic.

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