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Mies - understanding

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jun 22, 2012 01:05 AM
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by Edward Lifson ( last modified Jun 21, 2012



Now I've seen everything.

These safes inspired by Mies, by the renowned German firm Doettling. They make safes with names such as "Narcissus."

But wasn't Mies about "almost nothing"? And walls of thin glass. We are to feel "safe" in his spaces, but not due to thick walls and locks on the doors. No, it's more like Porgy's "I got plenty of (almost) nothin'. And (almost) nothin' is plenty for me." 
I got no lock on the door,
That's no way to be.
They can steal the rug from the floor, 
That's OK with me.
'Cause the things that I prize, 
Like the stars in the skies, 
All are free.

Oh, I got plenty of nothin',
And nothin's plenty for me.
I got my gal, got my song,
Got heaven the whole day long.

-George Gershwin

In a Mies building too, you have heaven the whole day long.

But this safe tells the narrative of one person having something and another, an imbalanced person, wanting to steal it. Mies is about balance and floating, swimming, in a world without things. His work tells you that you have everything you need, inside yourself, you can not steal it from another, and that you feel that when you connect yourself, as you do in his buildings, to entities larger than yourself. The more you break down walls, the more harmony you will feel. Rather than feeling "safe," his work returns to us the sublime sense of fear and trembling* - trembling before the unanswerable questions and beauties of nature and the cosmos - while also giving the occupant an otherwise unknown and otherwise very hard-to-attain inner peace. That's more valuable than protecting your valuables. 
*Mies's sometime friend Philip Johnson called the experience of nature from inside a glass house "safe danger." 
99% Wall Street




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