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Lilly Reich

Lilly Reich

*  1885 Berlin
† 1947 Berlin

Lilly Reich started out on what was to be a meteoric career in interior and exhibition design by serving an apprenticeship in machine-made embroidery in Berlin before going to Vienna, where she worked for the Wiener Werkstätte. By 1911, Lilly Reich was back in Berlin, where she began to design furniture and fashions, and worked as a shop-window decorator. In 1912 Lilly Reich designed a sample working-class flat in the Berlin Gewerkschaftshaus (Trade Union House), which was widely praised for the stringent and functional design of the furnishings. That same year Lilly Reich also joined the Deutscher Werkbund; in 1920 she made history as the first woman elected to its board of governors. In 1914 Lilly Reich showed work at the Werkbund exhibition in Cologne. From 1924 until 1926 Lilly Reich worked for the Messeamt (Trade Fair Office) in Frankfurt am Main, organizing and designing trade fairs. There Lilly Reich mit Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with whom she lived for many years. Mies van der Rohe hired Lilly Reich to work in his Berlin practice. In 1927 Lilly Reich collaborated with Mies van der Rohe on organizing the Werkbund exhibition "Die Wohnung" in Stuttgart. Lilly Reich also designed several interiors for that exhibition, including "Wohnraum in Spiegelglas" ("Living Room in Mirror Glass"), which she designed jointly with Mies van der Rohe. In 1929 Lilly Reich was made artistic director responsible for the German contribution to the Barcelona World Exposition, for which Mies van der Rohe designed his world-famous pavilion. In 1931, Lilly Reich was appointed organizer and designer of the "Deutsche Bau-Ausstellung" in Berlin, the most prestigious German architectural show. Around 1932 Lilly Reich worked for a short time at the Bauhaus and was head of the interior decoration workshop there. After the second world war, Lilly Reich taught at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Berlin but a severe illness forced her to resign. She died in Berlin in 1947.