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Lilly Reich

Lilly Reich was born in Berlin in 1885. In 1908 using her expertise in embroidery she went to work for the Wiener Werkstatte, a visual arts production company of designers, artists, and architects, of the famed designer, Josef Hoffmann. By 1911 she returned to Berlin and began to design furniture and clothing and work as a window decorator. That was the beginning of a full and successful career which included work at the Deutscher Werkbund, a group similar to the Wiener Werkstatte; designing a working-class flat in the Berlin Gewerkschaftshaus; becoming the first woman elected to the governing board of the Deutscher Werkbund; and working at the Messeamt in Frankfurt organizing and designing trade fairs. It was at the latter where she met Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the two began a collaboration on many projects together including the Barcelona Pavilion and the Tugendhat House along with their furnishings. Lilly was very talented but, according to the times because of being a woman, unrecognized in her accomplishments during her lifetime. She had a personal relationship with Mies but did not immigrate to the United States staying in Germany. Consequently, after the bombing of her studio in 1943, she was sent to a forced labor organization where she remained until 1945. She was released at the end of the war and began working on the revival of the Deutsche Werkbund but died in 1950, due to complications of her internment, before she saw its re-establishment.

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