From 1926 Mies van der Rohe was a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, and from 1930 to 1933 he was Director of the Bauhaus in Dessau.
The Barcelona Chair frame was initially designed to be bolted together, but was redesigned in 1950 using stainless steel, which allowed the frame to be formed by a seamless piece of metal, giving it a smoother appearance. Bovine leather replaced the ivory-colored pigskin which was used for the original pieces.
Originally made for display, only two iterations of the Barcelona Chair were specifically designed for the Barcelona Pavilion. Through their incorporation, “Mies sought a formal a solution to accompany the free-standing walls and planes of the Barcelona Pavilion,” intended to symbolize the new progressive spirit of the Weimar Republic. Mies said that the design had to be more than a chair, but “a monumental object.” As organizational elements, the chairs and accompanying ottomans were positioned throughout the pavilion as fixed pieces—Mies intended for them to remain in place.