Lily Reich


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Reich's early career centred upon the design of textiles and women's clothing, working at the Wiener Werkstätte with Josef Hoffmann from 1908 to 1911. In the following year in Berlin she met one of the driving forces of the Deutscher Werkbund (DWB, established 1907), Hermann Muthesius, and his wife Anne. She was involved with this progressive group in a number of ways, including the organization of a fashion show in Berlin in 1915 as means of promoting well‐designed German clothes. However, despite favourable critical and press attention this policy was soon discarded. In 1920 she became the first DWB woman member and established her own fashion and interior design studio in Berlin, followed by a similar venture in Frankfurt from 1924 to 1926. She also worked for the Werkbund as an exhibition organizer and was involved in the 1921 DWB exhibition of German arts and crafts that toured in the United States, commencing at the Museum of Art in Newark, New Jersey. The show contained 1,600 objects, with Reich working with Otto Baur and Richard L. F. Schulz on their selection and organization. In the mid‐1920s she became acquainted with the influential German architect and designer Mies Van Der Rohe and was closely associated with him from 1927 to 1938, although she continued to manage his affairs after he left Germany until her death in 1947. They cooperated closely on a number of projects, whether interiors, furniture, or exhibitions for the DWB. These included the MR cantilever chair of 1927 first manufactured by the Joseph Müller Metal Company and the Brno chair of 1929–30. She also worked with him on aspects of the DWB's Weissenhof Housing Exhibition in Stuttgart, for which he was the organizer (as well as the DWB's vice‐president). In 1932 she directed the Weaving Workshops at the Bauhaus in Dessau whilst Mies was the institution's director and she also collaborated with Mies at the 1937 Paris Exposition Universelle before he emigrated to the USA in the following year. She continued to manage his interests in Germany, saving the 4,000 drawings and documents from his Berlin Office now in the Mies Archives at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York. At the end of the Second World War she was involved in a meeting to revive the DWB and once more established her architecture and design practice alongside a teaching career in Berlin. The first major exhibition devoted to Lily Reich was shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1996.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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