Designed and built by the legendary German-American architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, in the late 1940s as a weekend home for a wealthy Chicago client, Farnsworth House is counted foremost amongst the famous houses in the world, a masterpiece of the minimalist International style of architecture. Along with the likes of Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies is considered to be one of the founders of modern architecture. Farnsworth is one of his famous works, a residential property that is still studied by architects for its pioneering use of space, material and the way it blends with surrounding nature.
The International style of architecture is characterized by an emphasis on volume over mass, the use of lightweight, mass-produced, industrial materials, rejection of all ornament and colour, repetitive modular forms, and the use of flat surfaces, typically alternating with areas of glass, according to the Art & Architecture Thesaurus of the Getty Research Institute. Farnsworth is one of the earliest examples of this style with its free-flowing interiors, all-glass walls set against a wooded countryside. Nature and light are as much part of the property as the materials used in its making. It is a one-room house with hardly any partitions to separate the different areas.
Only an all-round, wall-to-floor curtain ensures privacy when needed. Farnsworth House is part of what Mies once described as his “attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together in a higher unity”. It is now classified as a US National Historic Landmark.