At the age of 20, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe attended a trade school in Aachen while also being and apprentice at building sites in the same city. In 1901 he began taking evening and Sunday classes in construction and drawing, a worked as a draughtsman in several architectural offices. During 1907-08 Mies van der Rohe studied at the Unterrichtsanstalt am Kunstgewerbermuseum in Berlin under Bruno Paul and got his first independent architectural project, the Haus Riehl in Potsdam.
From 1908 to -12 Mies van der Rohe worked at the architectural firm of Peter Behrens, after which he became a freelance architect, construction several villas. During the 1920’s Mies van der Rohe turned more to the avant-garde design and got attention for radical ideas of glass skyscrapers and houses in reinforced concrete.
From 1925 Mies van der Rohe worked as the artistic director for the international exhibition in Stuttgart 1927, organized by the Deutscher Werkbund, which resulted in the area Weissenhofsiedlung. For the exhibition, Mies van der Rohe, who had become vice president of the Werkbund in 1926, himself designed a house with portable walls, as well as interiors (together with designer Lilly Reich) including the tube steel armchairs MR10 and MR20 Weissenhof sessel which were regarded as an innovation in the design world.
In 1927 Mies van der Rohe also exhibited the MR10 and MR20 at the Die Mode der Dame exhibition in Berlin, where he, once again together with Lilly Reich had made the stand/café for the German Silk manufacturers. In 1928 to -30 Mies van der Rohe worked in the design and furnishing of Haus Tugendhat in Brno, Czechoslovakia for which he also designed the Tugendhat lounge chairs and Brno chair. During the same time, Mies van der Rohe designed the German Pavilion for the World Fair in Barcelona, which including interior design such as the Barcelona chair.
Mies van der Rohe was the director of the Bauhaus School in Dessau and Berlin, from 1930 to -33. In 1931 he signed a contract with the firm Thonet to market their tubular steel furniture. Seven years later Mies van der Rohe emigrated to USA, where he became professor of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. From 1939 he also worked on the masterplan and building designs for the IIT Campus.
After the WWII, Mies van der Rohe worked on the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois (finished in 1951) and in 1947 a retrospective of his work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Until his death in 1969 Mies van der Rohe worked on several major architectural projects, such as the High-rise apartments at Lake Shore Drive in Chicago (1948-51), the Seagram Building in New York (together with Philip Johnson, 1954-58) and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin (1962-68).
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is represented as a furniture designer at museum all over the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rein and the Museum of Furniture Studies in Stockholm.