Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Maria Ludwig Michael Mies) is considered one of the true pioneers of modern architecture. He might also have been responsible for making the ”less is more” saying quite popular since he used it quite often. And it’s no wonder since he characterized his own buildings as being “skin and bones”, a consequence of a clear and simple style, with a amazingly open spaces.
He was born in 1886 and he took his first steps towards his future career in his father’s stonemasonry in Aachen, Germany. These early experiences helped him get in touch with the ideas of material, structure and potential transformation. His first independent work was the Riehl House and he got this job when he was only 21, while working for Bruno Paul. But it was his residential pieces and furniture design that would be the solid base of his celebrity, although he was dreaming about skyscrapers even in his early years.
In 1912 he was moving to Berlin and his work gradually turned him into the leader of the modernist trend in Germany, status that gave him the opportunity to design the German Pavilion for the Barcelona Industrial Exposition in 1929. What came next is in the history books, since his project challenged a lot of his time’s principles and turned into a genuine milestone.
Actually, it was this project that also helped create another one of Rohe’s famous works – the Barcelona Chair. It was designed specifically for the members of the Royal House in Spain, but it wasn’t actually used by them at the event. However, considering its intended purpose, Mies (this seems to have been his favorite name) looked for inspiration in a stool used by the Roman aristocracy. Nowadays, the steel/chromed frame is still made mostly by hand and the design of the Barcelona Chair is still as fresh as it was when it was first created. Its simple, elegant and curvy lines still influence architects and designers and they have been doing so for several generations now. Actually, the statement that it became an object of status for young architects in the ’70s and ’80s really wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
Of course, such a success would leave its mark on the architect’s career and his fame kept growing. In 1930 he became director of Bauhaus, but in 1933 he had to give up on this job because of Nazi pressure. In fact, it was this pressure that drove him to the United States, in 1938. But his 31 years in USA meant a lot of remarkable residential projects, skyscrapers and educational programs, a lot of which truly influenced the world of architecture.