The Barcelona Chair, In-Depth [Part 1]: Barcelona Leather

A Google™ search indicates that  is  the foremost site for high end Barcelona design and furniture at wholesale prices. “This West coast Internet pioneer features retro, modern, and post-modern furnishings at rock bottom prices. Gibraltar offers an exceptional array of wholesale, architectural, modern, high quality items at factory direct discount prices. Gibraltar Furniture is one of the leaders in the world of Internet modern architectural products. Gibraltar sells furniture manufactured in Italy, Asia, and the USA and all sales are tax free (except for orders within CA).”

Barcelona Sofa


The Barcelona chair cushions are made of leather. The original was made from pig skin, but we use only 100% imported high quality Italian leather for all of releases. Contemporary manufacturers have explored the length and breath of possibility in this regard, producing Barcelona style chairs of every conceivable type of leather – some with notably striking results.

Leather is a versatile and surprisingly diverse material. Leathers can vary tremendously: Consider that a raw hide can be thin or thick, supple or brittle; it can be scared or clean grained. Grain might be regular or irregular, deep or barely visible. And all of this variation exists even before the hide has been treated, scraped, dyed, printed, coated, cut and sewn.

The characteristics of the leather upholstery on your Barcelona Chair will to large degree define the apparent quality of the whole item.

In selecting leather an expert would look several characteristics. A soft and supple ‘hand’: A technical term which really just means – how good it feels on your hand; and a texture that they like. However texture is really quite a subjective and therefore personal choice.

Leath options


Top grain leather refers to the epidermis of a hide. That top layer that is both the strongest, most durable and the most characteristic. To be used as top grain leather, hides must have a pleasing regularity of appearance, without too many scars. All high quality manufacturers of leather upholstery will use top grain leather.

Corrected leather or Embossed leather has been stamped to apply an even texture, simulating the grain of leather, but without the naturally uneven markings of uncorrected leathers (removes wrinkles, bites and scars). This allows leathers with too many markings to be corrected, making them more appealing , and also addresses a growing market for uniformity and consistency. Corrected leathers are often but not always lower in price than uncorrected leathers.

Pigmented leathers are aniline dyed hides that includes a pigmented topcoat. The topcoat increases the leather’s durability and color consistency, but also increases the stiffness very slightly. People who like their leather furniture uniform and perfect as well as people who want more protection will enjoy this type of leather.

Some prefer more durable leather, one with a pigment and clear protecting coating. These can be almost invisible to the eye, but do feel slightly different to the hand.

Those in search of a less expensive variation might choose corrected leather. Corrected leathers are slightly lower quality in terms of regularity of grain and markings, and as such are slightly ‘exfoliated’ to remove the very top layer of the epidermis. They are then mechanically embossed with the grain pattern, before being treated with pigment and protective coating. These are sometimes still referred to as top grain leathers, although this term is somewhat inaccurate as some of the ‘top grain’ has in fact been removed.

We use only 100% imported Italian leather for our “Deluxe” program. Colors include Bright White, Camel, Chocolate, Ivory, Black, Red and Saddle Tan.


Semi-Aniline leathers are also colored by aniline dyes. As such they are also noted for their natural grain and softness. However semi-aniline leathers are treated with a clear sealant topcoat which has a slight sheen.

This protective layer is thin enough that it does not obscure the grain, but serves to afford additional protection and color consistency. Semi-anilines are sometimes considered to be the best choice as they offer some degree of protection while still retaining the softness and natural character and beauty of the leather.

We use only 100% imported Italian leather for our “Primo” program. Colors include Bordeaux, Cognac, Cappuccino, Golden Tan, Hunter Green, Black, Navy Blue, Parchment, Tangerine, and Wasabi.


Aniline leathers are those top grain leathers colored solely by aniline dyes. Aniline dyes are used quite commonly, on all types of leather. These chromium based dies are heated to ensure better penetration into the leather, and to help the dye bond to the cellular structure of the hide.

These transparent dyes preserve the subtle depth of translucence in the leather. Used without surface treatments of pigment and protective coating, aniline dyed leathers are the most natural and ‘naked’ and are therefore favored by leather lovers and purists the world over. No two aniline leathers are identical; each hide has its own characteristics.

Aniline leathers are highly prized both for their luxurious softness and rich color. Because Aniline dyes do not coat the surface of the leather, they do leave it somewhat less protected than other dyes and treatments.

Knoll uses untreated, top grain leather for its Barcelona Chairs. These hides are very high quality, having few natural imperfections, and as such can be used untreated, (without layers of pigment or clear coat protection). The difficulty with untreated leathers is that they fade easily, (more so than those with pigmented protective layers) and being quite porous they stain very easily.

We use only 100% imported Italian leather for our “Exquisíte” program. Colors include Chocolate, Cranberry, Black, Tofee, White and Whiskey.

Gibraltar is based in Beverly Hills California and can be found on the web at This firm has been in operation for over 50 years, and is an insider secret weapon for blue chip merchandise at warehouse prices. Yahoo reports that Gibraltar Furniture has “The best prices, models, and service of any site on the internet. This Beverly Hills 90210 store ( is nirvana for people who want Bauhaus, art deco, modern, mid century, or designer furniture at wholesale prices.”

All of our products are reproductions and are not licensed items. Instead they are inspired by by the designer. Gibraltar Furniture offers architectural office and home furniture at wholesale prices. We feature discount major brand, world famous designer leather/metal/wood furnishings & seating factory direct to you! Toll free: 800-416-363.


Art and furniture have come together on the web at

A flamboyant painter and sometime writer, sculptor and experimental film-maker, Salvador Dali was probably the greatest Surrealist artist, using bizarre dream imagery to create unforgettable and unmistakable landscapes. In addition to sculpture, film, and art the legendary Spanish creator produced a dazzling array of remarkable furniture pieces offered by Gibraltar at 800 416 3635 or


For the first time in history the entire collection is presented in its entirety directly from Spain. Moreover Gibraltar is the only source to present the entire catalog on the web for discount prices. And includes free shipping on all items. The collection consists of the Leda Low Table, the Leda armchair, Vis a Vis sofa, Barcelli Lamp, Muletas Lamp, Cajones Lamp, and the Rhinoceros door handle.

These offical releases range from a low of $2, 073 for a Dali cast art piece door handle all the way up to to $28,853for the Salvador Dali Vis à Vis Conversation Bench.

The Leda Low Table was originally designed in 1 937, and was based on Dalí’s painting Femme à la tête rose” (1935) This surreal piece is composed of lacquered and polished solid brass legs, brushed brass top, with lacquered Carrara marble egg. It measures L 75” x W 17.5” x H 16.5”

Leda Low Table

The companion Leda armchair is also made of acquered and polished solid brass and measures D 16” x W 23.5” x H 35.5” / seat H 19”. This unique seating sculpture runs $20,226

Leda Armchair

We feel that a bit of art history knowledge is helpful in understanding and appreciating the art of Salvador Dali’s furniture.

The multi-media artist was born in Figueras, Catalonia. He educated at the School of Fine Arts, located in Madrid Spain. After 1929 he espoused surrealism, although the leaders of the movement later denounced Dalí as overly commercial. Dalí’s paintings from this period depict dream imagery and everyday objects in unexpected forms, such as the famous limp watches in The Persistence of Memory.

Dalí moved to the United States in 1940, where he remained until 1948. His later paintings, often on religious themes, are more classical in style. They include Crucifixion and The Sacrament of the Last Supper. Dalí’s paintings are characterized by meticulous draftsmanship and realistic detail, with brilliant colors heightened by transparent glazes. Dalí designed and produced surrealist films, illustrated books, handcrafted jewelry, and created theatrical sets and costumes. Among his writings are ballet scenarios and several books, including The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942) and Diary of a Genius (1965).

In addition to furniture Dali concentrated on accessories including lighting pieces. The Bracelli lamp is an archetypal design of Jean Michel and Dali, adopted by Dali for his house at Port Lligat. Originally designed in 1937 this piece is made out of Beech wood covered in fine gold leaf, and includes a supporting bracket in pale varnished beech. The lamp is crowned in a handmade cotton and rayon shade.

Bracelli Lamp

The result is an angular almost unbalanced form, dreamlike and surreal. The reoccurring theme of the Muletas, or “crutch” appears here to restore order through frailty to the composition. Ironically, the appearance of crutches in Dali’s work can indicate a fragility of the human condition; here it seems to repair it. Ivory-colored cotton and rayon shade is hand made, 37 cm in diameter by 28 cm high. The lamp overall is an impressive 170 cm high. Gibraltar sells this remarkable unit for only $6000 and includes free shipping on this piece and every other unit in the collection.

Muletas Lamp

The Cajones Lamp is presented with buffed opal glass shades. Originally designed in 1937 this art piece sells for $2388. The carved structure is produced in pale varnished lime wood with feet of polished lacquered or chromed brass. Beige linen shade is handmade, 30cm in diameter by 30cm high. Lamp overall height is 67cm. It takes an E-27 100W spherical bulb.

Cajones Lamp

An interesting reoccurring theme we see in Dali’s paintings is that of the Muletas, or “crutches”. The appearance of crutches in Dali’s work can indicate a fragility of the human condition or other element which appears. The Muletas Lamp is presented with buffed opal glass shades. The carved structure is presented in pale varnished lime wood. Beige linen shade is handmade, 45 cm in diameter and 40cm high. Muletas Lamp overall height is 175cm. It uses an E-27 100W spherical bulb.

Muletas Lamp

Gibraltar Furniture is proud to offer the entire line of authentic licensed Dali line of high end pieces to collectors interested in certified pieces. All of our exclusive items are numbered, certified, and come with letters of authentication for the descriminating conosuire of fine art pieces.

Buyers are reminded that Gibratlar is also offering a special promotion for all on-line orders. Collectors can use the Cupon code Save50 to take another $50 off of any Dali order

“The only difference between myself and a madman, is that I am not mad!” Dali


The Barcelona Series by Mies van der Rohe: A Buyer’s Guide

So you want to buy a Barcelona Chair but don’t want to spend a fortune on the Knoll version selling at full list price. That’s where modern classic furniture reproductions come in. But how do you know if it’s going to be a faithful, high-quality reproduction or an ill-thoughtout knockoff? Here are some things to consider.

The Knoll version is also a reproduction!

Florence Knoll made a deal with the designer to reproduce the visionary x shaped chair for commercial use in Chicago. However, even in Florence Knoll’s early reproductions of the Barcelona chair, modifications were made from the prototype. Photos of the original chairs show that the cushion tufts were diamond patterned, not squares. And though the original chair frames were built of nine steel components bolted together, Knoll opted for seamless welding. She kept the chrome-plated steel until the advent of polished stainless in 1964, which cost more but, unlike some chrome applications, didn’t peel.

The longstanding debate around the issue of “real” vs. reproduction Barcelona Chairs is quickly rising to an out-and-out fever pitch on the internet. So why the hubbub? The intensity of interest would seem to indicate a widespread and abiding dedication, if not an obsession, with this mid century design masterpiece. Internet chat forums on the subject attract amazing numbers of inquisitive and surprisingly well informed visitors and posters. One forum alone has seen 42,000 + visitors to their Barcelona thread – between its inception in October 2002 and the beginning of 2005.

So what’s all the commotion about? We need to take close up look to see what everyone is talking about here to compare the differences.

Reproductions: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Here is a close up of the model of the Barcelona Chair. Note that the lines are perfect and that the entire frame is made out of polished stainless steel. All of the angles are exactly like original.

Barcelona Chair

Many of the low price knock offs you’ll find elsewhere simply use pig iron dipped in chrome. In comparison you will find that the stainless steel upgrade that Gibraltar offers has a highly polished effect that outshines chrome. In addition, the problem with chrome is that it peels off over time. It’s also subject to corrosion, scratches, and deterioration. In the end you will have a piece of furniture that is compromised and second rate.

In particular, buyers should look for models that use premium 12MM thickness solid imported stainless steel (no. 304) on the narrow parts and higher gauge for the frame. For instance the Gibraltar Barcelona flat bars frames are made of 32MM wide stainless steel. Solid stainless steel frames create excellent strength, polishing ability, and springing capability. These structures are usually 20% thicker and stronger the other entries in this filed. Such frames have superior resistance to oxidation or corrosion.

Barcelona Chair

Here is a picture of a Gibraltar Barcelona Ottoman compared to an inferior Barcelona Ottoman that you can find on the internet. The leather that the manufactures use is often sourced from water buffalo or pigs. Many producers of low cost imitations also use leather match or poly vinyl chloride covering.

Barcelona Ottoman Comparisons

Insist on Italian leathers that has top grain to (aniline) full grain covers. This insures that the color is consistent throughout your chair. Avoid lesser models that employ leathers that are highly corrected from China. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a very strong odor from these chairs.

When you examine a cheap imported chair you may notice that the leather is embossed with faux grain and is very uniform. This is a result of man made engineered material that is composed of scrap and bits and pieces that are bonded together artificially.

Keep in mind there are no 2 leathers alike. Many low price releases use split leathers (that are low in grade) and stamp a faux top grain pattern on the top or leather match material…

For leather that has the softest touch, consider purchasing full naked aniline leather instead.

Barcelona Chair and Ottoman

Since 2000, a flood of super cheap Barcelona imports has been dumped into the market place. The models are usually composed of cheap steel cast in China and the frames have a nickel content is much lower than the Gibraltar or Knoll version.

The end result is rust and or corrosion. The frames are fabricated from molds with molten steel dumped into them. What is little known is that casting metal in this fashion is one of the cheapest ways of creating frames. The end result in using these molds is that pit holes can form during polishing phase. Such pits can lead to frame failure. These models usually sell for $399-$799 on the internet but cannot match the leather, strength, and quality of the solid spring steel used in the Gibraltar version and the Knoll $5,000 versions.

Look for chair cushions that use high density (2lb) fire-rated foam. This will give your Barcelona chair longevity, performance and a look that will last for years.

Avoid low density foam which will lose shape in a very short period of time.

On the original the back cushion rise about 1 inch over the stainless steel frame. Both the Knoll and the Gibraltar version have a height of 31 inches. On the other hand the cheaper Chinese knock offs are WAY OUT of proportion compared to the original version. They tend to sit very awkwardly and are totally out of proportion to the original. Some models are up to 34 inches high.

When analyzing Barcelona chairs cushions, make sure they cushions have Italian leather on ALL sides. This is not a standard feature for many lower prices chairs. Make sure that the model you select has Italian Leather all of the way around it. Though some of these chairs say their leather is “Italian”, you will often see that the leather is actually coming from China. These chairs may have a strong odor and are very offensive.

Make sure that your cushions are attached with buckles and or straps that are hidden from general view. With many lower priced models the attachment hardware is completely totally viewable from the rear of the chair.

Barcelona Reproduction

Knoll is currently actively engaged in an attempt to scare away retailers and manufactures from selling any Barcelona product. The manufacturer is currently in litigation to choke off any non-Knoll entries into the marketplace

To win a judgment, Knoll’s lawyers would have to convince a jury that there is a “likelihood of confusion” in the mind of the consumer. And to the undiscerning eye, often the cheap reproductions are quite similar to the originals, varying only in small changes of width or height, or the thickness of the frame. Most experts regard this as saber ratting and ignore their efforts to stymie competitors.


David Harrison, a trademark lawyer at Rosen & Livingston in New York reports that after 75 years, the design for the Barcelona chair is in the public domain. Knoll can do little more than “make a lot of noise”.

James Biber, an architect at the firm Pentagram, sympathizes with consumers. Knockoffs, if done faithfully, make classic furniture available to a wider range of people and “Spread awareness of good design. Consumers usually can’t tell the difference unless they turn it over and look at the label.”

High Quality Reproductions made with 100% Italian Leather at

Click Here to browse the Barcelona Series Furniture at

We love doing business with all sorts of customers from home owners to Architectural firms and designers. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have!

Gibraltar’s Toll Free Number: 1-800-416-3635