As an apprentice at the studio of Peter Behrens from 1908 to 1912, Mies was exposed to the current design theories and progressive German culture. He soon began taking on independent commissions designing homes in traditional Germanic styles. Then, after World War I he designed custom homes in an effort to achieve a new style for a new industrial democracy. Mies led the International Stylists along with Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School, and Le Corbusier.

He was greatly influenced by the modernist aesthetic of Russian Constructivism, which pushed for the efficient use of modern industrial materials. The simple use of color, clean lines, and cubic forms of the Dutch De Stijl group also greatly appealed to him.

Mies admired the American Prairie Style work of Frank Lloyd Wright with its open floor plans and moving spaces. Though Wright and Mies, shown at right, were acquainted, Wright did not favor the barebones architecture of the International Style and joined the debate against its promoters in an issue of House Beautiful magazine, referring to them as “totalitarians.”

Photo: Chicago History Museum: HB-25942-A, Hedrich Blessing (detail)



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