Exhibition at Berlin’s Mies van der Rohe Haus remembers legendary architect through iconic furniture

Photo courtesy of Mies van der Rohe Haus


MIES – SITZEN UND LIEGEN, or Mies Sitting and Lying Down, is a year-long series of exhibitions and talks at Berlin’s Mies van der Rohe Haus. The former residence of Martha and Karl Lemke was built between 1932 and 1933, and is the last house that the German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed before emigrating to the United States. Today the Mies van der Rohe Haus serves as a contemporary art space.

The current exhibition displays three of Mies’s trademark chairs, including the Barcelona chair (pictured here) and the Weißenhof chair. According to Jan Maruhn, Berlin-based art historian and one of the exhibition’s curators, the latter was not popular when it was created nearly 100 years ago: “Sometimes modern things take a long time, or need a long time to be accepted, or to be seen as beautiful.”

A photograph of a yellow leather sofa is also included in the exhibition, recalling the original that once stood in the minimalist house. Both the design and Mies’s placement of it in the room defied furniture trends of its time. “Normally you are passive on a sofa, sitting or lying, but here you have to make a decision first,” explained Maruhn.

Mies was also the last director of the Bauhaus, and MIES – SITZEN UND LIEGEN takes place just in time for the legendary design and architecture school’s 100th anniversary. Mies may have gone on to design skyscrapers in New York and Chicago, but here, in a light-filled villa in Hohenschönhausen, the master of modern architecture is remembered on a more human scale.

Photo by Monika Müller-Kroll.