Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969)

German architect and designer, active Germany and America. Born Ludwig Mies, he received little formal architectural training.


After working briefly as a stonemason for the family business, Mies moved to Berlin in 1905. There, he joined the office of Art Noveau architect Bruno Paul, where he learned furniture design. In 1908, he took a job with Peter Behrens; his colleagues in that office included Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. Mies went into private practice in 1913, adding the more impressive Rohe, his motherĀ“s maiden name. His very early work was inspired by the classicism of Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Even as Mies began to design in an increasingly modern idiom, his work would always retain an underlying classical sensibility in its scale and proportion.

Mies, often in collaboration with Lily Reich, designed furniture for many of his early projects, and most of it is still in production today. In particular, furnishings for the Tugendhat House and the Barcelona Pavilion have become design icons. In addition to his architectural practice, Mies co-edited the journal G, served as vice president of the Deutscher Werkbund, and served as the last director of the Bauhaus prior to World War II.

In 1937, Mies was appointed head of the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and he left Germany permanently to settle there. His ideas would irrevokably alter the American architectural landscape: The Seagram Building in New York (1958) was one of the first glass office towers in America, and has since inspired countless imitations. Mies' work was widely published and exhibited, and he was generally regarded as the foremost living architect.

Notable furniture designs include the cantilever MR10 chair (1927), the Barcelona suite of furniture (1929), the Brno chair (1930) and the 248L chaise longue (1929).

-> More designers