ludwig mies van der rohe

Germany, 1886-1969

Mies van der Rohe began his career in architecture in Berlin in the studio of Peter Behrens, following in the footsteps of Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. By the mid-1920s, Mies had become a leading avant-garde architect in Germany. In 1927, a housing project called Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart, Germany, would bring these names together again. Widely believed to be one of the most notable projects in the history of modern architecture, it includes buildings by Gropius, Corbu, Behrens, Mies and others.

In 1928, Mies was asked to design the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. The Pavilion was to provide a location that the king and queen of Spain could visit during the opening of the Exposition. With that in mind, Mies designed a modern throne – known today as the Barcelona Chair – for their majesties. In the following year, Mies designed another notable chair, the Brno, with a gravity-defying cantilevered base.

He was a member of the Bauhaus movement. Founded by Walter Gropius to embrace socialist ideals of a functional philosophy about art and design. In 1930, Mies succeeded Walter Gropius as the director of the Bauhaus, where he stayed until the school closed in 1933. The Nazis found the work of Bauhaus to be degenerate and the group shut down under political pressure. In 1937, Mies emigrated to the United States, and a year later became the director of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The rest of his career was devoted to promoting the modernist style of architecture in the United States, resulting in modernist buildings such as the Farnsworth House and the Seagram Building, designed with Philip Johnson. Mies was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1947.

Following a lengthy battle with esophageal cancer, Mies died on August 17, 1969, in his adopted hometown of Chicago. Mies van der Rohe’s brand of architecture has shaped the look of modern cities with their towers of steel and glass. His daring design of furniture exhibits a sense of proportion with minimalist forms and exquisitely refined details. His chairs have been called architecture in miniature – structure and materials that achieve a perfect visual harmony.


mies van der rohe Designs