Sunday, September 19, 2010

He's got nothin'

Master architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (affectionately “Mies” in the industry) was born in Germany but made his international reputation right here in New York.  A giant in architectural history for pioneering the modernist “International Style” in the late 1940’s and 50's, he also created such iconic pieces as his famous Barcelona chair, featured in many chic Manhattan lobbies.
From Encyclopedia Britannica:
“His first great work was the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain, a travertine platform with chromed steel columns and spaces defined by planes of extravagant onyx, marble, and frosted glass. The steel-and-leather Barcelona chair he designed for the space went on to become a 20th-century classic.”
Born the same year as our ClockTower, he was director of the famous German Bauhaus from 1930 – 33. But it is for his Seagram’s Building (1956–58) at 375PARK and 52nd  Street that we revere him. Still one of the finest examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a masterpiece of corporate modernism, this 38 story tower serves to this day as headquarters for the Seagram Liquor Company. When completed, this plain steel skeleton sheathed in a simple glass curtain-wall facade was the most expensive skyscraper in history, yet exemplified Mies's famous dictum that "less is more”.

Perhaps Mies’s most famous and widely quoted observation is “ in the details.”

He’s got nothin' on us.


  1. There are a few of those Barcelona chairs in the lounge outside my office.

    But interesting piece.

  2. I also know this quote as in "The Devil is in the details."

  3. From Wikipedia:
    The idiom "the devil is in the details" derives from the earlier phrase, "God is in the detail;" expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.[1] This original idiom has been attributed to a number of different individuals, most notably to German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) by The New York Times in Mies' 1969 obituary, however it is generally accepted to not have originated with him. The expression also appears to have been a favorite of German art historian Aby Warburg (1866–1929), though Warburg's biographer, E.M. Gombrich, is likewise uncertain if it originated with Warburg. An earlier form "Le bon Dieu est dans le detail" (the good God is in the detail) is generally attributed to Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880).[1] Bartlett's Familiar Quotations lists the saying's author as anonymous.[2]