Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – German Furniture Designer

Posted on 22nd August 2011 in Furniture design styles, German Furniture Designers

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Born March 27, 1886, is considered a pioneering master, along with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier of modern architecture. His buildings, using modern materials such as steel and plate glass to define interior spaces and were beacons of clarity and simplicity. His architectural style was fashioned towards minimalism, calling his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He has become associated with the aphorism “less is more” and “God is in the details”.
He worked in his father’s stone-carving shop and local design firms before working for the interior designer Bruno Paul. His architectural career was born when he apprentice at the studio of Peter Behrens from 1908-1912. There he was exposed to popular design theories and to progressive German culture – meeting and working with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier.
Ludwig Mies renamed himself after his marriage ended in 1921, adding the Dutch ‘van der’ and his mother’s maiden name, ‘rohe’, becoming Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
For a competition in 1921, he designed two innovative steel-framed towers encased in glass. Though it was never built, it drew critical praise and laid the framework for his dream of building a glass skyscraper. This would come to fruition with his skyscraper designs of the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Some of these include New York’s ‘Seagram’s Building’, Chicago’s ‘Twin Towers’… examples of flexible, open space on a large scale.
Pre-coursing his skyscrapers, in 1944, and already an American citizen, he designed one of his most famous building, the ‘Fransworth house’, a small weekend retreat outside of Chicago. It is one of the most radically minimalist houses ever designed – it is a transparent box framed by eight exterior steel columns. A single room forms the interior, which is then subdivided by partitions and completely enclosed in glass.
Another of his most famous buildings, the German Pavillion at the international exposition in Barcelona was designed in 1927. Two years later, this small hall had become known as the Barcelona Pavillion – and for it he also designed the famous chrome and leather ‘Barcelona Chair’. The pavilion maintained a flat roof supported by columns. The hall’s interior walls were constructed of glass and marble and were mobile as they did not support the structure, resulting in the concept of fluid space which could as easily move indoors as outdoors. He continued to explore this method in his designs years later. During this period he collaborated with Lilly Reich, his muse and companion for many years.
In 1962, he designed Berlin’s ‘New National Gallery’. His design for this was to realiz his dream to build an exposed steel structure which directly connected interior space to outdoor environment. Though he traveled to Berlin several times during the building’s construction, he was unable to attend it’s opening in 1968. He died on August 17, 1969 in Chicago.

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