Remembering Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

barcelona stools

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, “Mies,” was driven by the mantra “less is more,” a philosophy reflected in his simplistic yet modern design. August 17, 2013 is the 44th anniversary of Mies’ death. To honor an important figure in the history of design, bauhaus has dedicated our entire Flex space to honoring this important designer.

For this article, we turned to Jan Flatt, Knoll Studio Rep in Dallas for a history lesson on Mies van der Rohe and his influence in modern design.

About Mies van der Rohe

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Mies began his career in architecture working at this father’s stonemasonry business in Germany. He apprenticed with furniture designer Bruno Paul in Berlin, after which he joined the office of architect Peter Behrens in 1908. During his time with Behrens, Mies worked on the embassy for the German Empire in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 1912, Mies established his own design firm. His style is most known for open spaces and simplicity as well as the use of modern materials, such as industrial steel and glass. He served as Director of Bauhaus in Germany from 1930 to 1933 before being forced to shut down the Bauhaus school after the Nazi Party denounced his ideas as “un-German.” While a member of the Bauhaus, Mies designed the German Pavilion for the World’s Art Fair in Barcelona Spain. He succeeded where other modern architecture failed. The Pavilion was a successful composition of paving, walls, roof, water, and vegetation.

In 1937, Mies moved to the United States and settled in Chicago. He soon became head of the architecture department at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, later renamed the Illinois Institute of Technology. Buildings designed by Mies are still viewable on the school’s campus today.

Designs by Mies

barcelona collection

The Barcelona® Collection — This is his most famous collection and an icon of modern design. It was first designed for the German Pavilion at the 1929 Worlds Fair in Barcelona. The Barcelona Chair once served as thrones for the King and Queen of Spain. In 1950, Mies redesigned the collection to take advantage of advancement in technology, creating a fluid, single piece frame. The collection is a beautiful marriage of modern design and superior craftsmanship, the epitome of Mies’ dictum that less is more. The Barcelona Chair is manufactured exclusively by Knoll.

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The MR Collection — Features a chaise, lounge chair, table and chair and represents some of the earliest steel furniture designed by Mies. The MR Lounge Chair was designed in 1927 and is inspired by fellow Bauhaus master Marcel Breuer. Its form is “thought to be modern derivatives of 19th century icon rocking chairs.” (www.knoll.com)

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Tugendhat Chair – This large, leather chair was designed in 1927 for the Tugendhat residence in Germany. It’s large seat and back are supported by leather straps mounted on a flat polished steel frame. The Gestapo seized the Tugendhat residence in 1938. It has since been restored and is now open for viewing.

Want to experience Mies’ simplistic and beautiful designs firsthand? Stop by our showroom this month and view some of our favorite pieces by Mies in our showcase, viewable from the front and sides of our building.

View more photos of the above collections in the gallery below.

  • Barcelona Chairs Barcelona Chairs
  • Barcelona Chair Detail Barcelona Chair Detail
  • MR Chair MR Chair
  • Tugendhat Chairs Tugendhat Chairs
  • Tugendhat Chairs Tugendhat Chairs
  • Tugendhat Chairs Tugendhat Chairs
  • Tugendhat Chair Detail Tugendhat Chair Detail