Oct, 20, 2011,
11:29 AM

Highlight: McCormick House

A neat little history of Mies’ McCormick House is available on Daily Icon. It offers a back-to-basics look at Mies’ professional history and integrates the context of World War II in his use of materials.

Plus, the site has a floor plan of McCormick House, which could inspire those who seek a domicile full of 90-degree angles. Take a look at the maximized use of living space. For a four-bedroom, it sure doesn’t have much in the way of hallways.

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Oct, 13, 2011,
9:37 AM

Just Mies’ Type

Last week, the Society of Typographic Arts recognized the Mies Society’s website in Arts Archive11, their annual competition for design work with excellent typography.

Mies didn’t design any fonts—besides the signage in the Toronto Dominion Center—but he had some strong opinions about them. In his biography of Mies, Franz Schuze relates Mies’ contributions to the short-lived avant-garde design magazine G, which put out five issues between 1922 and 1923. Mies financed the entire third issue himself. This cost even more than you’d expect because the whole thing was printed in a sans serif font, unusual for its time.

“Sans serif” literally means “without serif.” A serif refers to the small projection at the end of each letter, giving it the appearance of having feet. The reason the modernists behind G disapproved of serifs so much is that these projections imitate handwriting. Mies and his contemporaries thought a font shouldn’t try to be what it wasn’t. This trueness to form is seen in Mies’ approach to buildings and furniture.

Today, it’s tough to imagine a world without sans serif fonts (like Helvetica, used on the Mies Society’s website), and with such vestiges of modernism all around us, it’s more important than ever that we recognize the beauty in it.

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Oct, 10, 2011,
10:33 AM

We’re so proud

These very words are written on an award-winning web page.

The Mies van der Rohe Society site was recognized on October 7 in the Society of Typographic Arts ArchiveII, an annual competition for design work with outstanding typography.

It will be exhibited at the Harrington College of Design at 200 W. Madison, Chicago, through October and placed in the permanent collection of the Chicago Design Archive.

We’re grateful to the talented people who work with designer SimpleScott for making this website fantastic.

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Sep, 28, 2011,
9:56 AM

Goldberg on Mies

Geoff Goldberg, AIA, shares his thoughts on Mies in celebration of two current exhibitions about Bertrand Goldberg, Geoff’s father. He designed Marina City, a.k.a. the corncobs, and made a definitive mark on mid-century design.

Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention is at the Art Institute of Chicago through January 15, 2012. The other show, Bertrand Goldberg: Reflections, is free to the public at The Arts Club of Chicago through January 13, 2012. It was designed by Geoff and fellow architect John Vinci, FAIA, and features Bertrand’s personal collection of art as well as his designs of furniture, jewelry and buildings.

Here’s Geoff’s answers to our standard survey:

1. Describe Mies in a nutshell (remember, less is more).

Mies as the Buddha of architecture. Often mute, puzzling, quizzical, serious and caring.

2. Does Mies help you or haunt you?

Mies both helps and haunts. One is left with the feeling of never having done enough, good enough, studied enough. That said, he still propels me to deep and serious approach to the work, things that should never fade away. So haunt or help? Both, together.

3. Why do Mies’ simplicity and clarity generate such controversey?

The simplicity is a myth. There is nothing simple about Mies or his work. It is minimal, it can be seen as austere, but it is more appropriately read as subtle an nuanced. It does not promote itself in the commercial marketplace, and bluntly speaking, he probably never really was truly interested in that realm, all protests to the contrary.

4. If Mies could come to dinner at your house, what would you serve? And what would you want to discuss?

First thought is a nice dinner, not too fancy, but a well-set table, and a nice wine. But one can also imagine a picnic on a wood table with a dark German beer. We’d talk about nature in Germany, the Black Forest and the landscape, and how the differences with America impacted his thinking. All the while, I’d be thinking of Lily Reich, and wondering what she would have added to the conversation and to Mies’ thinking.

P.S. Geoff recommends this site for a comprehensive history of his father’s life.

Photo by hao$ via Flickr

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