In addition to being one of the most significant and influential architects of the 20th century, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) is considered the most rigorous of the Rationalists, with his pure, perfectly geometric spaces, organized on planes freed of the restrictions of walls. Born in Aquisgrana, he studied and worked as a furniture designer in Berlin, coming into contact with Gropius and Le Corbusier. He later remained fascinated by the works of Wright. When he opened his own architecture studio, his work began to draw closer to the De Stijl movement and Constructivism, and he started designing using steel and glass, extremely innovative elements for the time. Vice-president of the Werkbund, a cultural organization of primary importance in the '30s, he also served as director of the Bauhaus. Among the main European projects are the Weissenhof building in Stuttgart, Villa Tugendhat in Brno, and the German pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition of Barcellona. In 1937 he moved to the United States, where he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the Institute of Technology of Chicago, dedicating his efforts, among many other things, to the building of skyscrapers, defining continuously new and functional designs.
Mies designed modern furniture pieces using new industrial technologies that have become popular classics, such as the Barcelona chair and table, the Brno chair, and the Tugendhat chair. His furniture is known for fine craftsmanship, a mix of traditional luxurious fabrics like leather combined with modern chrome frames, and a distinct separation of the supporting structure and the supported surfaces, often employing cantilevers to enhance the feeling of lightness created by delicate structural frames. During this period, he collaborated closely with interior designer and companion Lilly Reich.