Order Tracking Customer Service Distributors Wanted Save on Chairs, Benches and Tables.
Art in Home, Part of Life!

Color

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe


Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies; March 27, 1886 – August 17, 1969) was a German-American architect. He is commonly referred to and was addressed as Mies, his surname. Along with Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright, he is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.
 
Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth-century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strove toward an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. He called his buildings "skin and bones" architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design, but he was always concerned with expressing the spirit of the modern era. He is often associated with his quotation of the aphorisms, "less is more" and "God is in the details".
 
Early Life
Mies was born in Aachen, Germany. His talent was quickly recognized and he soon began independent commissions, despite his lack of a formal college-level education. A physically imposing, deliberative, and reticent man, Ludwig Mies renamed himself as part of his rapid transformation from a tradesman's son to an architect working with Berlin's cultural elite, adding "van der" and his mother's surname "Rohe", using the Dutch "van der", because the German form "von" was a nobiliary particle legally restricted to those of genuine aristocratic lineage.
 
He began his independent professional career designing upper-class homes, joining the movement seeking a return to the purity of early nineteenth-century Germanic domestic styles. He admired the broad proportions, regularity of rhythmic elements, attention to the relationship of the man-made to nature, and compositions using simple cubic forms of the early nineteenth century Prussian Neo-Classical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. He rejected the eclectic and cluttered classical styles so common at the turn of the twentieth century as irrelevant to the modern times.
 
In 1913, Mies married Adele Auguste (Ada) Bruhn (1885-1951), the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. The couple separated in 1918, but had three daughters: Dorothea (1914-2008), an actress and dancer who was known as Georgia, Marianne (1915-2003), and Waltraut (1917-1959), who was a research scholar and curator at the Art Institute of Chicago. During his military service in 1917, Mies fathered a son out of wedlock. In 1925 Mies began a relationship with designer Lilly Reich that ended when he moved to the United States; from 1940 until his death, artist Lora Marx (1900-1989) was his primary companion. Mies carried on a romantic relationship with sculptor and art collector Mary Callery for whom he designed an artist's studio in Huntington, Long Island, New York. He also was rumored to have a brief relationship with Edith Farnsworth, who commissioned his work for the Farnsworth House. Marianne's son Dirk Lohan (b. 1938) studied under, and later worked for, Mies.
 
Emigration to USA
Commission opportunities dwindled with the worldwide depression after 1929. Starting in 1930, Mies served as the last director of the faltering Bauhaus, at the request of his colleague and competitor Walter Gropius. In 1932, Nazi political pressure forced the state-supported school to leave its campus in Dessau, and Mies moved it to an abandoned telephone factory in Berlin. By 1933, however, the continued operation of the school was untenable (it was raided by the Gestapo in April), and in July of that year, Mies and the faculty voted to close the Bauhaus. He built very little in these years (one built commission was Philip Johnson's New York apartment); the Nazis rejected his style as not "German" in character.
 
Frustrated and unhappy, he left his homeland reluctantly in 1937 as he saw his opportunity for any future building commissions vanish, accepting a residential commission in Wyoming and then an offer to head the department of architecture of the newly established Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago. There he introduced a new kind of education and attitude later known as Second Chicago School, which became very influential in the following decades in North America and Europe.
 
Mies settled in Chicago, Illinois where he was appointed head of the architecture school at Barcelona Chair and OttomanChicago's Armour Institute of Technology (later renamed Illinois Institute of Technology). One of the benefits of taking this position was that he would be commissioned to design the new buildings and master plan for the campus. All his buildings still stand there, including Alumni Hall, the Chapel, and his masterpiece the S.R. Crown Hall, built as the home of IIT's School of Architecture. Crown Hall is widely regarded as Mies' finest work, the definition of Miesian architecture.
 
In 1944, he became an American citizen, completing his severance from his native Germany. His thirty years as an American architect reflect a more structural, pure approach toward achieving his goal of a new architecture for the twentieth century. He focused his efforts on enclosing open and adaptable "universal" spaces with clearly arranged structural frameworks, featuring prefabricated steel shapes filled in with large sheets of glass.
 
His early projects at the IIT campus, and for developer Herbert Greenwald, presented to Americans a style that seemed a natural progression of the almost forgotten nineteenth century Chicago School style. His architecture, with origins in the German Bauhaus and western European International Style, became an accepted mode of building for American cultural and educational institutions, developers, public agencies, and large corporations.
 
Furniture
Mies designed modern furniture pieces using new industrial technologies that have become popular classics, such as the Barcelona chair and table, the Brno chair, and the Tugendhat chair. His furniture is known for fine craftsmanship, a mix of traditional luxurious fabrics like leather combined with modern chrome frames, and a distinct separation of the supporting structure and the supported surfaces, often employing cantilevers to enhance the feeling of lightness created by delicate structural frames. During this period, he collaborated closely with interior designer and companion Lilly Reich.
 
Significance & Meaning
Mies pursued an ambitious lifelong mission to create a new architectural language that could be used to represent the new era of technology and production. He saw a need for an architecture expressive of and in harmony with his epoch, just as Gothic architecture was for an era of spiritualism. He applied a disciplined design process using rational thought to achieve his spiritual goals. He believed that the configuration and arrangement of every architectural element, particularly including the character of enclosed space, must contribute to a unified expression. One notable way that Mies connected his buildings with nature was by extending outdoor plaza tiles into the floor of a lobby, synthesizing the exterior and interior spaces of the site. The device accentuated the effortless flow between natural conditions and artificial structures. This characteristic is often found in his large building projects such as the Seagram Building.
 
Brno Tubular ChairThe self-educated Mies painstakingly studied the great philosophers and thinkers, past and present, to enhance his own understanding of the character and essential qualities of the technological times he lived in. More than perhaps any other practising pioneer of modernism, Mies mined the writings of philosophers and thinkers for ideas that were relevant to his architectural mission. Mies' architecture was guided by principles at a high level of abstraction, and his own generalized descriptions of those principles intentionally leave much room for interpretation. Yet his buildings are executed as objects of beauty and craftsmanship, and seem very direct and simple when viewed in person.
 
Every aspect of his architecture, from overall concept to the smallest detail, supports his effort to express the modern age. The depth of meaning conveyed by his work, beyond its aesthetic qualities, has drawn many contemporary philosophers and theoretical thinkers to continue to further explore and speculate about his architecture.
 
Gallery
Barcelona Chair and Ottoman Brno Tubular Chair
 
Brno Flat Chair