Design Legend: Van der Rohe

This a repost from my old blog. I thought it fitting to start the Design Legend series off on this blog with one of my favorite designers. I plan to post information weekly about one of the designers that inspire me to want to be a better designer.

A Design Legend:

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe was born in Aachen, Germany in1886. He developed a design approach based on advanced structural techniques and Prussian Classicism. He mademajor contributions to the architectural philosophies of the late 1920s and 1930s as the artistic director of the Werkbund-sponsored Weissenhof project and as the Director of the infamous Bauhaus. Famous for his dictum “Less is more” Van der Rohe attempted to create contemplative, neutral spaces through an architecture based on material honesty and structural integrity.
Most famous for his Barcelona Chair which he created for the German Pavilion at the 1929 Barcelona Exposition. The chair represents a clear expression of Van der Rohe’s work to create a universal, simplified architecture. In 1962, his career came full-circle when he was invited to design the New National Gallery in Berlin. His design for this building achieved his long-held vision of an exposed steel structure that directly connected interior space to the landscape. He returned to Berlin several times while the gallery was under construction, but was unable to attend the opening in 1968. He died in Chicago on August 17, 1969.
Above: The Barcelona Chair at the Barcelona Pavilion

“A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier.

That is why Chippendale is famous.” – Van der Rohe

Above: A rendering of the Barcelona Chairs that I did as an undergraduate.
The Farnsworth is another of Van der Rohe’s major works. It is significant for two primary reasons. 1) It embodies a certain aesthetic culmination in Van der Rohe’s experiment with this type of building and 2) the house is the fullest expression of modernist ideas that took seed at the Bauhaus but were culminated in the United States. This house is located in Plano, Illinois and was severely damaged by flood in September 2008. Estimates indicate that the damage to the house was in the neighborhood of $500,000. Donations can be made at
Above: The Farnsworth House
Below: The Farnsworth House under water

Van der Rohe is a personal inspiration. I am extremely inspired by the entire Bauhaus movement and his work is a fantastic example of everything the school represents in Design History. Van der Rohe is widely considered one of the most inspiring designers/architects of the 20th Century and his work has inspired many, many other designers. To me, the simplistic beauty of his work represents the ability of clean modernity to feel comfortable. His work is timeless and all designers hope they can achieve a certain level of timelessness in their work.

3 thoughts on “Design Legend: Van der Rohe

  1. Pingback: Design Legend: Harry Bertoia |

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