Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - Design New York Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Employee at the Mies van der Rohe studio, Am Karlsbad 24, Berlin; Private Collection, Berlin

  • Literature

    Wita Noack, Konsentrat Der Moderne, Bonn, 2008, p. 235

  • Catalogue Essay

    The History of Steel would be incomplete without a chapter titled ‘Mies van der Rohe,’ for that material is greatly reinforced by his name. Mies built all his best-known chairs from seats of steel—chrome, stainless, nickel-plated. Despite a metal fixation, his choice of materials was not unalloyed: Mies designed wood furniture for most of his major pre-war commissions. He veneered those tables, desks, and chairs in tropical timbers like jacaranda and palisander, as well as more workaday woods. The present lot, a desk with three drawers, comprises a plywood core veneered in Macassar ebony (also known as coromandel or its variant calamander). The design is nearly identical to eight three-drawer desks he made for himself and for Lilly Reich in the Weißenhoff Estate, and for those in the Tugendhat House, the Lange House, the Hess Apartment, the Crous Apartment, and the Lohan Apartment, all built between 1927 and his emigration from Germany in 1937.
    Dr. Ludwig Glaeser, former curator of the Mies van der Rohe Archive, wrote of various tables at Tugendhat: “…the square legs were moved to the corners and lined up flush with the top, as if the entire table were cut out of a cube.” As Dr. Glaeser noted, the unbroken veneers of those tables continued up their legs into the fasciae above—a fluid transition—as with the present lot. Mies’s choice of Macassar ebony was apt: the heartwood’s straight grain pulls the eye from ground to top and so accentuates the table’s lean geometry. To quote Werner Blaser: “It was always a distinguishing feature of Mies van der Rohe’s work in Germany…that he refused to imitate earlier styles and sought single-mindedly for constructions which articulated the material into a clear and visible structure matched to the purpose of the building and the nature of the material itself.” Here wood must work. In accord with Mies's penchant for 'graphic austerity,' the variegated ribbons of light and dark bear the responsibility for dynamic expression without compromising the desk’s clear and simple structure.  


Rare and important stool

Macassar ebony-veneered wood, leather, wood.
18 1/2 x 21 3/4 x 15 3/8 in. (47 x 55.2 x 39.1 cm.)

$25,000 - 35,000 


17 Dec 2008 2pm
New York