For Mies van der Rohe, the Vila Tugendhat was an opportunity to realize a total work of art on a large scale and generous budget. He and his associate, the interior designer Lilly Reich, designed every detail, from the innovative window mechanical system, to the steel-framed Brno and Tugendhat chairs.
The house was built in the late 1920s for Grete and Fritz Tugendhat. Grete had visited one of Mies’ houses while living in Germany with her first husband. After her divorce, she married Fritz Tugendhat, and they invited Mies to design their home on a site at the top of Grete’s parent’s garden; a wedding present from her parent
On first view, the street facade is deceptively modest. The house has been built into a slope and only the top floor is visible when you approach. In fact the house has three levels. Entering the house you pass through an enormously high front door, into quite a modest entrance hall. The effect is dramatic and at the same time intimate. This is the entrance to the bedroom wing. From here you’re led down a round staircase and all at once the space opens out into the famous living room. It’s an enormous space, bound by an onyx marble wall inserted like a backdrop and by a semi-circular screen of Macassar ebony. Grete described the space as containing ‘just one rectangular wall and one round wall’.