Happy birthday to one of the principal shapers of our modern world, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Along with other post-World War I architects, such as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret), van der Rohe's aesthetic came to define what "modern" looked like in the 20th century. The bare framework and open floor plan that van der Rohe frequently employed came to be known as "skin and bones" architecture, never employing even the slightest detail if it wasn't necessary to the overall feel of the space. To see an example of his work, go to Google today and click on the iconic Crown Hall building.
Mies was not just an architect of physical spaces, but his own reputation as well. Despite not having a formal college-level education, the young man began getting his own commissions after successfully working under Peter Behrens from 1908 to 1912. He even redesigned his name, adding in the "van der" and "Rohe" (his mother's surname) prior to becoming the architect that we know and love today.
Even though van der Rohe created such iconic designs as the Seagram building in New York and the Farnsworth House in Illinois, it is was his ideas that were his greatest contribution to society. He famously told the New York Herald Tribune in 1959, "Less is more" and "God is in the details." With those simple words, van der Rohe's ethos would permeate not just architecture and modern living, but fashion, cinema and the culinary world, igniting a newfound love of functionality throughout the world.
Mies van der Rohe was truly an architect of the future, not just of structures, and his words still resonate today. His was arguably a style that will truly never go out of style.
Happy Birthday, Mies van der Rohe!
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Peter Behrens was head of the Bauhaus; he was in fact integral to the Deutscher Werkbund. Additionally, Mies shaped the 20th century, not the 21st century. We apologize for the errors.
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