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The Best of The Best 2003: Furnishings - Barcelona

Adele Cygelman

Few pieces of furniture are as voluptuous as the chaise longue—it is the prime perch for lounging around and daydreaming. And few are as impractical as the Barcelona daybed. Forget trying to curl up and get cozy with it. I have never seen anyone sit on one, let alone recline on it. So what is its purpose?

Whoever buys a Barcelona daybed acquires not a piece of furniture but a work of art. It adds grace and elegance to a room. It has the understated beauty of Anjelica Huston. It requires lots of breathing space—you can’t squeeze it next to the coffee table or shove it against a wall. It needs to float alone, preferably taking center stage.

The Barcelona chair and ottoman have been around since 1929, when Mies van der Rohe designed them for the German pavilion at the Barcelona World’s Fair. The modern pavilion caused a sensation. It was finished in four types of stone (two green marbles, travertine, and onyx doré), tinted glass (green, gray, white, and clear), and chrome metal. A year later, Mies created the Barcelona daybed for architect Philip Johnson’s New York apartment. Knoll has been making the suite ever since.


With a rosewood frame on chrome-plated tubular steel legs and a tufted leather mattress and bolster, the daybed (about $15,000) deftly dem-onstrates Mies’ conviction that less may indeed be more, but less is never inferior or cheap.

Like every timeless classic, the Barcelona daybed is both simple and complex, a sublime statement of pure form that has no real function. It is the only piece of furniture I covet, and since I doubt that I will ever own a house that will match its pedigree, it will remain an unrequited love, admired from afar. Just as it should be.

Knoll, 800.343.5665, www.knoll.com

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