Knowing the history of the Barcelona Chair is a big, important part of owning one, and that starts by knowing the man behind it: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. This master mid-century modern designer was also responsible for the rest of the items in our Barcelona Collection and as at the level of all the designers behind our Best Sellers. There’s plenty of information about Mies available now. However, we’ve rounded down the 5 most important aspects of his character and his career.
The Barcelona Chair Designer: Mies van der Rohe
Mies, as he was later known, was an influential Bauhaus designer born in the great kingdom of Prussia in 1886, in Aachen (present-day Germany). He made a huge impact on modern architecture as one of the founders of the International Style in Germany.
Mies helped establish the International Style as the definitive architectural language of North American postwar modernism and influenced hundreds of emulators worldwide.
His steel-and-glass aesthetic became the archetype of the term “modern architecture” for decades even after his death. Mies’ buildings became the prime targets for postmodernists who later attacked the International Style.
He passed away in Chicago in 1969, at 83 years old. His love for America flourished after World War II.
Mies Never Formally Studied Architecture
What makes Mies so interesting is the fact that he never formally studied architecture. Of course, it wasn’t like he didn’t know anything, the interesting thing is that he practiced everything he knew through design and work itself. He started as an apprentice and developed his own style through the years, one that would (in turn) be taught as basic knowledge in every architecture school around the globe.
Not many people see Mies as a fighter, though of course, most people living at the time didn’t have any choice. He enlisted at the beginning of the war and helped to build bridges, roads, and other utilitarian structures. When seeing the German remnants of the war one can’t help but wonder if Mies helped build some of them.
The Origin of his Name
This is one of those things you definitely need to know about Mies. The kind of line that you throw at parties to make yourself seem more knowledgeable (because it works). Choosing weird monikers is an integral part of being an artist (look up Pablo Neruda’s real name, you’ll be surprised). He was born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies (a last name that means “lousy”). He added the honorific “van der” (son of) from the Netherlands, and Rohe, his mother’s maiden name.
His First Professional Design
Mies got his first architecture job by famously drawing a building façade in under one hour. His boss at the time was trying to come up with an original design, and he had spent weeks working on possible ideas. When he asked Mies for help, he sketched a perfect prototype for the boss’ ideas. Needless to say, he was hired on the spot.