Celebrating the legacy of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe…
To claim that Mies was keenly attentive to detail would be an understatement. Mies’ asserted belief that “God is in the details” is reflected in the massive collection of his drawings and sketches, which demonstrate the intricacy of detail in his designs of buildings, spaces, concepts, or furniture. It is a dispiriting thought that in our fast paced world, we spare only fleeting observations of our environment, these thoughtful details go unnoticed, overshadowed by the overall beauty to which they contribute.
Through careful study of over a thousand of Mies’ sketches and drawings, available through the Museum of Modern Art, select details gleaned from Mies’ work were translated into designs for cufflinks.
the pavilion cufflink
The Barcelona Pavilion (1928-1929), one of Mies van der Rohe’s most iconic works, became a reference in both his own career and in the work of other 20th century architects. It was originally constructed as the German Pavilion for the Barcelona International Exposition of 1929, serving as a ceremonial reception space for King Alphonso XIII of Spain and German officials at the Exposition’s inauguration. This building owes its place in the canon of Modern Architecture to Mies’ successful embodiment a modern culture rooted in classical history. The Pavilion is elegant, minimal, and sleek – a place of tranquility that separates itself from its context to “create atmospheric and experiential effects… that dissolve all consciousness of the surrounding city.”ª This effect of separation is particularly realized by the open and fluid plan, enclosed by a seemingly floating roof structure supported by eight slender cruciform columns.
The design of this cufflink has been drawn from one of Mies’ horizontal column section drawings, and uses a mix of highly polished and oxidized silver and golden amboyna burl to reference the chrome and travertine pavers that were used in the original space.
The resor cufflink
The insistence of Nazi ideology against Modern Art and Architecture in favour of German Classicism put Mies at odds with his clients. It was in 1937 that the curator at the Museum of Modern Art had referred Mies to Helen and Stanley Resor to design their vacation house in Wyoming. Mies envisioned this unrealized project as a glass-enclosed volume that opened itself to the natural space, raised on pillars, creating both a dramatic and transparent view of its surroundings.
Out of the 800 drawings Mies produced for the Resor House, many were photo-collages. The design of this cufflink has been drawn from one such collage of the landscape view from the living room of the House, constructed from solid silver with a hand engraved and oxidized replication of the photo used in the collage.
The Museum of Modern Art
the schaefer cufflink
Mies van der Rohe’s design for the Georg Schaefer Museum (1960-63) was ultimately rejected for financial reasons, but the photo collages he created for this project set the tone for the Neue Nationalgalerie, one of van der Rohe’s final works, and stand as important artistic pieces in their own right. The particular collage that inspired the design of these cufflinks shows a proposed interior perspective, looking out at the museum grounds. The collage uses Mark Rothko’s No. 8 alongside photos of the actual site where the Museum was intended to be built, with van der Rohe’s ink drawing, unifying the piece and creating perspective.
These cufflinks are made from solid silver and solid 18 karat yellow gold engraved plates with prong set natural hessonite garnets. Rothoko’s painting is recreated by the partially sandblasted gold plate containing the garnets, while van der Rohe’s ink drawing is recreated by marring the oxidized silver.
The Museum of Modern Art
THE tugendhat CUFFLINK
The Tugdendhat House (1928-1930) was Mies’ last major home in Europe. Built on a steep grade, overlooking the city of Brno, the House was innovative for its time. With the incorporation of motorized windows and walls, to its novel use of iron in a non-industrial context, the space was as beautiful as it was functional and comfortable. Not only was the structure a part of his vision, Mies took great care with the design and use of colours, materials, textiles, and furniture, the latter of which was designed specifically for the carefully choreographed spaces of this House.
The design of this cufflink has been drawn from Mies’ detail section of the dining-room terraces travertine pavement. The piece is constructed from solid silver and red amboyna burl.
THE westmount CUFFLINK
Westmount Square (1964-1967) is a complex of high rises and a plaza, brought together by a shared
landscape design, in Montreal QC. This cufflinks design draws upon the very specific exterior column configuration between the ground level and the ceiling slab at the plaza level which is typical of Mies’ other high rises, including Toronto Dominion and Lakeshore Apartments. This design utilizes solid silver and madrone.