Collage of Antoni Gaudi furniture design pieces

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Collage of Gaudi furniture design

All the Gaudi Chairs

ANTONI GAUDI FURNITURE DESIGN

During the Modernisme times (late 1800’s – early 1900’s), it wasn’t unusual that architects would design themselves certain pieces of the furniture that would go inside their buildings, even if for the rest of the furnishings they’d use the services of the very best carpenters and craftsmen. Often the furniture made by the architects would be shaped to remind you of the outside of the building. 

Antoni Gaudi was a prolific furniture designer, even if this side of his career stays often in the shade of the spectacularism of his architecture. He designed cabinets, dressers, a variety of objects for religious use including altars, and of course, tables and many different types of seats: chairs, chaise-longues, sofas… In today’s post we’ll be focusing on Gaudi chairs.

1

Gaudi chairs for Casa Calvet

Gaudi chairs for Casa Calvet

Casa Calvet was Antoni Gaudi's first apartment building, built in 1902. Located on Casp street, the building continues to be a private property closed to visitors, except for the street level where there's a restaurant. Gaudi designed the furnishings of both the main floor where the Calvet family lived, and the street level that housed the offices of the textile business run by the Calvet.

For those offices Gaudi designed a furniture collection that included a variety of seats made of oaktree wood. They were elegant and had some geometric decoration inspired in nature, as the Calvet family were amateur naturalists. The furniture collection included a chair, a chair with arm rests, a bench and a stool with a low back rest, and were destined to the offices of the family business located on the street level of the house.

Instead, the pieces designed for the home of the Calvet are way less famous, maybe because of their style that reminds you more of a baroque palace than Gaudi furniture, as he had to adapt to the grandness style that his clients envisioned, with golden colors and velvet upholstery. The set includes a chair, an armchair, a foot rest and a voyeuse. 

WHERE TO SEE THE THEM:

  • There’s some replicas displayed on the attic of Casa Mila and for sale on their gift shop.
  • The MET Museum in NYC owns one armchair, but unfortunately it’s usually not on display.
  • The Casa Museu Gaudi displays the set that he designed for the apartment of the Calvet family on the main floor, on loan from the MNAC Museum.

2

Palau Guell chairs by Antoni Gaudi

Count Eusebi Guell asked Gaudi to design a mansion on a side street off la Rambla. His Palau Guell is considered Gaudi's last youth project and here one can already appreciate hints to elements and techniques that would become Gaudi's signature in his later masterpieces. And while most of the furniture there was either pieces they brought in from their former home, or pieces created by the finest furniture designers of the time, Gaudi also contributed with some pieces. 

Two embedded benches can be still found at their original location inside Palau Guell: one ,made of marble on the side wall of the central hall (the upholstery cushions that covered it aren’t there anymore), the other a leader one along the tribune next to the dinning room. Gaudi also designed free-standing pieces, two of them seats: an elegant chaise-longue for the room of Isabel Lopez, wife of Count Guell, and a set of chairs with decoration of cats and mice, grapes and vine leaves.

WHERE TO SEE THE THEM:

  • The chaise-longue is rarely seen in public, as it remains private property of the Guell family and only very occasionally they accept to loan it for temporary exhibits.
  • Two chairs of the set are displayed in Palau Guell, in the room of the family heiress, Isabel Guell.

3

Gaudi's pews for Cripta Guell

Count Eusebi Guell also commissioned Antoni Gaudi to build a church for the workers of his textile factory in Colonia Guell (Santa Maria de Cervello). Although the Cripta Guell was left unfinished, it played a crucial role in the development of the use of catenarian arches in his architecture. Gaudi also designed the pews, recycling whenever it was possible pieces of broken looms such as walnut wooden parts and metal. His knowledge of ergonomics reaches here a new level, creating a bench that is only comfortable to keep silence while listening to mass but turns uncomfortable when the seaters try to talk to each other. Originals and replicas can be seen in art museums, Gaudi sites, and of course in the chapel of Cripta Guell.

WHERE TO SEE THE THEM:

  • Crypt of the Colonia Guell (some are originals, some are replicas)
  • Cloister of the Sagrada Familia Church
  • MNAC museum (original)
  • The MOMA in NYC has an original, but it’s usually not on display.

4

The famous Antoni Gaudi chairs for Casa Batllo

In 1905 Gaudi carries on the refurbishment of Casa Batllo, an apartment building where he was asked to modernize the façades, add two more floors, redistribute the floor where the owners lived and transform the patios around the stairs and the elevator. Besides the architectural works, his tasks also included designing furniture for the apartment of the Batllo family.

A major feat of Gaudi’s furniture, the set included ash dinning room chairs, low sewing chairs, and a famous confident consisting in two armchairs creating an angle that allowed seaters to whisper into each other’s ears. Originals and replicas can be seen in art museums and Gaudi sites.

WHERE TO SEE THE THEM:

  • MNAC Museum (original confident and dinning room chairs, plus other furniture)
  • Casa Batllo main floor and gift shops (replicas)
  • Casa Mila attic and gift shops (replicas)
  • The MOMA in NYC has an original dinning room chair, but it’s usually not on display.

5

Gaudi furniture for Sagrada Familia

Evidently, Antoni Gaudi designed numerous pieces of furniture and religious artifacts for the Sagrada Familia church, since he worked there for the last 43 years of his life. Unfortunately, many of them disappeared during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, when the crypt was set in fire. Regarding seats, he created different models of pews, as well as a padded kneeler and a chair with the words Jesus Maria Josep and a monogram of Christ on the back rest.

WHERE TO SEE THE THEM:

  • Cloister of the Sagrada Familia church (replicas, as the originals were burnt in a fire during the Spanish Civil War)
  • Gaudi House Museum (replicas)

6

Gaudi furniture designs for the Sobrellano Pantheon

Thanks to Count Eusebi Guell, Antoni Gaudi got several commissions in the North of Spain. Almost simultaneusly to the construction of Casa Vicens, his first project as an independent architect in Barcelona, he designed El Capricho, a vila in Comillas (Cantabria). The vila was next to the Palace of Sobrellano, owned by the Marquis of Comillas – Guell’s father in law. And the architect such Palace was Joan Martorell, a Catalan architect who commissioned Gaudi the design of some furniture pieces for the family pantheon in the gardens of the Palace: a seat of honor, two praying chairs and several pews.

WHERE TO SEE THE THEM:

  • Chapel of the Sobrellano Pantheon, in Comillas (Cantabria)

7

Llimona Chair

Not many people are aware that Antoni Gaudi designed in 1890 a furniture set that he gifted as a present to the Catalan modernist sculptor Josep Llimona. The set included a Gaudi chair that is rarely seen in public, although one of them is owned by the Museum of Modernism, that occasionally lends it to other cultural institutions.

WHERE TO SEE THE THEM:

  • Museu del Modernisme (originals), and they occasionally can be seen on loan for temporary exhibits in other museums and cultural centers.

What is your favorite Gaudi chair?

Marta

Author Marta Laurent Veciana

AUTHOR BIO

Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.

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Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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