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Designer Spotlight: Mies


Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, also known as Mies (1886-1969), was an architect and furniture designer, whose ambitious primary concern was to capture and express the spirit of the twentieth century. He was born in Germany in 1886 in relatively humble circumstances, and later adopted his aristocratic-sounding name in an attempt to separate himself from his background. Largely self-educated, he intently studied design theory and philosophy, which helped inform the evolution of his practice.

Following the trauma of World War 1, Mies and his contemporaries came to believe that traditional design was out of step with the modern age. To their way of thinking, the old social order in Europe had collapsed, and its favored styles of architecture, like neoclassicism, deserved to go with it. They sought to create a new design movement that more honestly reflected the age. Inspired by new technologies and means of production, Mies began designing modernist buildings that were free of extraneous ornamentation, focusing instead on clean lines, pure colors and simple geometric forms.

When Mies first added furniture design to his repertoire, he did so in collaboration with Lilly Reich, with whom he created the Barcelona and Brno chairs. From 1930 to 1933 he was the director of the Bauhaus; a few years after its dissolution he moved to the USA in search of creative opportunities than weren’t available under the Nazi regime. He designed some of the most exciting buildings of his time, from college campuses to New York skyscrapers, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. In addition to his architecture and iconic furniture designs, Mies is remembered for popularising the phrases “God is in the details” and “less is more.”



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