Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – German Furniture Designer

Posted on 22nd July 2011 in German Furniture Designers

Ludgwig Mies van der Rohe, best known as one of the pioneers of the Modernist movement in architecture was as equally prolific in designing contemporary modern furniture. With design and a thorough understanding of structure the Cantilever Chair was designed in 1927 testing the limits of bent tubular steel. Designed without any back support the chair seems to float in space defying both structural and gravity laws. This cantilever design was applied to produce the cantilever armchair, the Brno armchair and the chaise lounge.

He, like other designers of his time, such as Marcel Breuer, experimented with materials, mixing them in unlikely combinations. Leather with chrome is one such combination all the while employing principles of structure to create the system of support.

He is also known for producing the Barcelona bench, chair, bed and stool that exemplify his design intent of producing contemporary furniture that is streamlined and unadorned.  Quoted as saying “God is in the details”, he championed modern furniture design that fit comfortably into open free-flowing spaces. The Barcelona chair and Ottoman and the rest of the set was designed for the German Pavilion in the entry for the International Exposition of 1929. Barcelona, Spain hosted the event and the Barcelona collection was specifically designed as a resting spot for the Spanish Royalty who were overseeing  the ceremonies .  While it seems that the royalty never actually used the furniture in this manner, the fact that Mies had based a modern furniture design on an ancient design of a folding chair illustrated his genius in translating the design of the past to modern furniture of the present.

Again, his use of materials, structural principles and modern methods allowed the original design of the frame that was to use bolts as fasteners instead to be redesigned in 1950 utilizing a single seamless piece of stainless steel.

The Tugendhat chair was also a modern furniture cantilever chair specifically designed for the Tugendhat House in Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1929 – 1930. Essentially a cross between the Barcelona chair and the Brno chair, it has leather padding supported by leather straps with a flat solid steel frame. This frame was formed into a “C” shape to create the cantilever. This was part of the modern furniture that he designed for the villa that was devoid of any kind of wall decoration instead relying on the qualities of the materials used for wall materials.





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