Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Photo courtesy of Phaidon
Did you know that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies? Find out what else you don’t know about this master of modern design in Detlef Mertins’ extraordinary monograph, Mies (Phaidon).
Few authors could have written this book, and it reveals as much about Mies as it does about Dr. Detlef Mertins, who was uniquely qualified for the task. Mertins spent a decade researching and writing this monograph but sadly died before it was published, at 56. He spent the last 10 years of his life living Mies, and I cannot imagine a more touching and selfless tribute to one of the 20th century’s most influential architects.
860–880 Lake Shore Drive, 1948–51, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Photo courtesy of Phaidon
Growing up with a father who was an architect and a mother who worked for Knoll, Mertins’ appreciation of the built world began in childhood. Born in Stuttgart and raised in Canada, he had an understanding of German and North American culture, which served him well in his roles as architect, historian and writer and as professor of architectural history and theory at the University of Pennsylvania. An avid reader, his Toronto home had to be structurally reinforced to support the weight of his library of more than 4,000 titles that were recently donated to Penn.