Collection 1880s–1940s

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. MR20 Armchair. 1927

Chrome-plated tubular steel and cane, 32 1/4 x 33 x 22" (81.9 x 83.8 x 55.9 cm). Rob Beyer Purchase Fund. © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Curator, Juliet Kinchin: These chairs, designed by Mies van der Rohe, have been in almost constant production since they were first presented here in 1927. But at the time, I think many people were rather dubious about sitting on what seemed to be air and concerned about the stability of these designs.

Tubular steel was a wonderful material for lightening the overall weight of such furniture and adding a textural highlight to any interior composition. And tubular steel, like plywood and linoleum -- these new materials -- was also really hygienic, easy to move. So it works on all these fronts: it's innovation which is aesthetic, technological, and also speaks to a new way of living and moving around the interior.