Tag Archives: Mies Van Der Rohe

A Closer Look: The Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, often called Mies – was one of the most important pioneers of modern architecture.  He began his career in Berlin, where he soon established a reputation as a talented and capable designer, despite lacking of a formal education.

In 1937, Mies reluctantly emigrated to Chicago, where he began a program of teaching at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).  He became well-established in Chicago and designed many projects over his 31 year career there.  Many of his buildings, including the Federal Court Complex and Lakeshore Drive Apartments are still an important part of the city’s skyline.

But one of the most unusal projects that the architect undertook was a home for a physician named Dr. Edith Farnsworth.   Built in 1950-51, it is a one-room weekend retreat in a once-rural setting, located 55 miles southwest of Chicago.  The building consists of simple slabs of concrete supported by steel columns.  The entire perimeter of the home is made of plate glass that stretches from floor to ceiling. 

This building is simplicity at its best.  And it’s no surprise, considering Mies van der Rohe is sometimes credited with coining the phrase “Less is More.”   But the building’s simplicity belies the fact that it was actually very expensive, at a cost of $74,000 (that’s about $1 million in today’s dollars).

The main materials are wood cabinetry, travertine floors, steel structure, and silk curtains.  Inside, everything is simple, harmonious, and plain.  An ingenious in-floor radiant heating system even eliminates the need for air vents.

The home is open for public tours – and it’s definitely worth the trip. Check out the wesbite: http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/


image 1: http://projects.cbe.ab.ca/glendale/showcase/2011gr56/inquiry_karshproject.html

image 2: flickr

image 3: philobiodesign.blogspot.com

image 4: ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com

image 5 & 6: picasaweb.google.com

A Closer Look: Design and Process

Here at Design Lines, all of us are involved in the creative process every day.  From sketching by hand to setting-up material boards, we are always working hard to envision how our projects will come together.  A big part of our job is being able to understand how something will look before it actually materializes.  But this ability isn’t unique to interior design.   I thought it would be interesting to see how people in other professions follow their own unique strategies to design anything from clothing to skyscrapers.

Design Lines Ltd. Yves Saint Laurent Sketch with Material Samples Fashion Design

Here’s a board created by the great fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, in which he has selected fabrics for each dress in a collection.  It doesn’t look all that different from some of the fabric and material board we set up at Design Lines.

Design Lines Ltd. Blog Alvin Lustig Preliminary Sketch for Fabric 1940s Fashion Design

This drawing is a concept for a patterned fabric by Alvin Lustig (1940s).

Design Lines Ltd. Blog Eva Hesse Sketch for Repetition Nineteen Moma Drawing Graphite Watercolor

Here’s a drawing by Evan Hesse showing the a famous sculpture she would make called Repetition Nineteen.  In the sketch, the sculpture could be made of almost anything, and in any scale.  After a few iterations, the final product was completed out of translucent fiberglass. 

Design Lines Ltd. Blog Dallas Shaw Fashion Sketch drawing

Here’s a fashion sketch by Dallas Shaw, showing the basic elements of an ensemble.  Again, it’s just a concept, and the possibilities are almost endless.

Design Lines Ltd. Mies Van Der Rohe perspective sketch of a room

And here’s a beautiful collage by Mies Van Der Rohe to envision an interior space in a tall building, along with the view of the landscape beyond.  I love how it is so simple that it can be interpreted in a number of different materials.  This indistinct approach is actually very helpful – allowing the designer to see what is there, but also what could be.   Can you envision the completed project?


image 1: The Lux Chronicles, image 2: Birds of Oh, image 3: Moma, image 4: Dallas Shaw, image 5: Posterious

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