Knoll, renowned worldwide as a leader in the design of residential and office furnishings, will take part for the first time in imm Cologne taking place from 14th to 20th January 2019, Germany’s major international fair on trends and new developments in the quality home and furnishings sector.
In keeping with the “Modern Always” philosophy, Knoll presents new creations alongside modern classics in an extremely stylish space featuring great attention to detail. The installation by OMA, the firm co-founded by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is a tribute to the centennial of the Bauhaus, and explores the projects of one of the most important architects of the 20th century: Mies van der Rohe.
Concentrating on the collection designed by Mies, the pavilion is divided into four spaces, each reproducing the atmosphere of one of the projects for which the collection was designed: the house in Krefeld (1927), the Weissenhof estate in Stuttgart (1927), the Barcelona Pavilion (1929), and the Tugendhat house (1930).
A series of overlapping walls placed along the main axes create the backdrop for the various settings. Each quarter is enhanced by a range of materials, creating a particular atmosphere based on the original project. An abstract image of the plan is imprinted on the travertine floor, conveying a more precise notion of the spaces.
Visitors attracted by the oversized Knoll logo enclosing the space can walk through the various areas, experiencing a sequence of striking visions of architecture and design. In a realistic display setting, the collections created by Piero Lissoni, from the Red Baron bookcase to the KN01 and KN02 seats, all the way to the Grasshopper table in the 4.5-meter length, are intertwined with the classic seating from the MR and Barcelona® collections designed by Mies van der Rohe.
Knoll kicks off the celebrations of the centennial of the Bauhaus by focusing on the iconic collections, creating special “Bauhaus Editions”: the MR collection, featuring new fabric and leather options for the covers, and the iconic Barcelona® Chair. The latter comes in an exclusive limited edition: just 365 pieces will be produced in 2019, one for each day of the year, certified and numbered to commemorate the centennial of the movement and the close ties with Knoll and the foundations of its inimitable design approach.
The products presented by Knoll in its first appearance at imm, at booth A004 - B005, clearly and eloquently reflect the values of the brand: timeless image, and the coherent design with which the company has always been identified, skillfully combining uniqueness and comfort.
Barcelona® Chair Bauhaus Limited Edition
Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
To celebrate the anniversary of the Bauhaus, where Mies van der Rohe was the director from 1930 until the closing of the school in 1933, Knoll focuses on the iconic Barcelona® Chair designed by Mies himself, presenting a limited-edition version. Only 365 pieces will be produced in 2019, one for every day of the year, certified and numbered to commemorate the centennial of the Bauhaus and the close connection between Knoll and the foundations of its outstanding design. One of the distinctive strong points of the company is its collection of leathers, part of a range of upholstery options of the highest quality in three colors, offered by Knoll to accompany the sophisticated finishing of the metal structure.
A collection with international appeal, designed in 1929 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe when he was commissioned to create the Pavilion of the Barcelona International Exposition. In 1950 the architect revised the design of the armchair, in a blend of old and new features that brings harmony to domestic comfort through innovation. Mies, a friend and mentor of Florence Knoll at the Illinois Institute of Technology, officially assigned production rights of the Barcelona armchair and its footrest to the company in 1953. Since then this model has become an icon that distinguishes Knoll worldwide, not only in the history of architecture, but also in that of design. Its essential elegance bears witness to the genius of one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, but above all it is a symbol of a modernity that knows no geographic or chronological bounds. The entire armchair is still made by hand even today.
More than nine decades since its debut, the Barcelona armchair has not lost any of its modernity and elegance: it is a timeless classic in the history of design.
MR Lounge Collection Bauhaus Edition
Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
The beauty of essential things, according to Mies van der Rohe
One of the most novel symbols of architectural modernity is undoubtedly the glass skyscraper designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1922. It is a pure volume composed of levels that alternate unadulterated metal and glass, achieving complete transparency. A work of architecture that has the essential character of an archetype, the pithy impact of a manifesto, fearlessly asserting that removing is more effective than adding, and that structure – when it is logical and based on sound reasoning – can speak for itself, without the need for anything else. In other words, the famous “less is more.” At the same time, the project set the front line of Mies’ research on a new aesthetic conception, where it is the material that does the talking, decoration is no longer necessary, and the functional form reaches new heights of rare elegance, in a new idea of what has precious value.
These same concepts can be seen in one of their finest applications in the Pavilion for the International Exposition of Barcelona in 1929: not a house, not a work of abstract architecture, but the ideal of a space created to represent modernity, offered in its fullest synthetic elegance during the visit of the royal family of Spain. Precisely to welcome them, an open construction made of staggered planes was imagined, which never close the volumes thanks to the extensive use of glass. The sole “decorative” concession here is the splendid age-old sedimentation of the precious blocks of granite used for the walls. The sparse furnishings included above all a modern throne: a seat that is a bridge between past and future, as only an icon can be, reminding us of the crossed form of the sella curulis of Roman sovereigns, made here with shiny chromium-plated metal that is almost a mirror of the surrounding space. This structural gem, powerful and light at the same time, supports two cushions of capitonné cowhide, another eloquent sign of crafted luxury. It is clear that in this case Mies van der Rohe did not want a seat without history, but to grant a future to memory, launching a new aesthetic meaning based on terseness rather than over-abundance.
The MR Collection and the Bauhaus years
In 1927-28 the architect joined in the research on Rationalist furniture in metal tubing, a symbol of modernity, with the MR10 model and then the MR20, a chair in a cantilevered version, with or without armrests, where the seat is in wicker or cowhide, designed together with Lilly Reich. This led to other variations (a chaise longue and smaller chairs) that were then brought together in the MR Collection. These were the years in which the theme of the cantilevered chair was also being explored by designers like Rietveld, Stam and Breuer. The influence of the latter is particularly strong, that of a designer who had made his mark within the Bauhaus, the famous German design school, first as a student and then as a teacher. As the head of the carpentry workshop of the school, Marcel Breuer proposed the interesting combination of metal tubing for structures and woven wicker for the seats and backs, an idea that was taken up by Mies. But with respect to any other proposals in that period, the solution by the German architect manages more than any others to reconcile practicality and elegance, rigor and the quality of details, essential image with the power of form. The conciseness of the curved line of the MR Collection, in fact, represents a point of arrival for the many paths of research of the time, presented in 1927 for the Weissenhof in Stuttgart, a development built to demonstrate the proposals of the Modern Movement, represented by works of architecture by great 20th-century masters like Behrens, Le Corbusier, Gropius and – obviously – Mies van der Rohe.
In 1930 the German architect became the director of the Bauhaus, the school that since 1919 had revolutionized methods of teaching freedom of expression and the creative disciplines. Mies set out to preserve the critical spirit with which the school was founded, while underlining the mission of adaptation to industrial modernity on the part of the new wave of German design. This was clearly too much for the repressive political climate of the day, and the school was forced to close in 1933, after which Mies moved to the United States.
Success in America, and design production
In the States Mies van der Rohe became the director of the Department of Architecture at the Armour Institute (later known as the Illinois Institute of Technology), where he created an expansion that was to become one of the masterpieces of modern architecture in the United States. Together with the Seagram Building in New York, the IIT campus took the ideals of Mies’ architecture onto an American scale. During his time as a teacher there, in the 1930s, he became acquainted with a promising student, Florence Schust, the future wife of Hans Knoll. This meeting had a lasting impact on the lives of both: for Florence, Mies was a mentor and an absolute cultural reference point; for the architect, starting in 1948, the Knoll family became the perfect and exclusive counterpart with which to realize his ideal of modern furnishings. A project that while it was part of the International Style with its Rationalist credo, would always have its own precise, independent identity.
From the first edition of the Barcelona Collection in 1948, all the way to the MR Collection in 1964, the masterpieces of Mies van der Rohe designed in the late 1920s were bestowed not only on the history of architecture, but also on that of design, thanks to the work of engineering, industrialization and distribution conducted by Knoll. Their essential elegance bears witness to the genius of one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, embodying a modernity that knows no geographical or chronological boundaries.
The MR Collection today
For the centennial of the founding of the Bauhaus, the MR Collection – which owes a great deal to the ideals of the artistic movement connected with the school – has been revised with new fabrics and leathers for the coverings. The approach attempts to recover the meaning of furniture created by its designer not so much as a response to a practical function of inhabitability of space, but as the fulfillment of a complex architectural vision. The legibility of the architectural space of masterpieces like the Tugendhat House or the Barcelona Pavilion meets its counterpart in the transparency of the structural form, and in the motto often repeated by Mies: “beauty is the splendor of truth.”
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