Less is More: Modular Minimalism

Posted on by Lauren M

Typically used in reference to the architecture and design philosophy of architect Mies van der Rohe and his colleagues, the famous adage, 'less is more' aptly captures both the physical and ideological aspects of the modern architecture movement.  


One of the most well-known figures to define the International Style in the 1920's, Mies established a reductionist language of steel and glass to realize an abstracted universalist architectural typology, highly influenced by social and political theory in both approach and practice. 


Years later, his early work in the U.S. reflects this ideology in the simplicity of form and material at one of the most well-known homes of the twentieth century shown above, the Edith Farnsworth House, a meticulously detailed 1,500 square foot retreat in Plano, Illinois, whose design and construction took over five years, to be completed in 1951.


So, with that bit of history, it was a surprise that this iconic symbol of modernist minimalism was released this month as the newest addition to LEGO's 'Architecture series', and we're wondering how this latest iteration, constructed solely of those (arguably iconic in their own right) ever-familiar LEGO plastic building blocks, would have been received by the exacting architect.   


Depending on one's perspective, the LEGO block could be viewed as the ultimate in modular minimalist design, as the designer of the series aptly describes in his summary of the design process:

'In order to effectively replicate the balance between the refined white structural elements and expansive clear glazing, I started with the smallest cross-section I could make for the vertical exterior columns.  After several attempts, the most promising turned out to be using basic 1x1 bricks.  Everything else essentially fell into place: the inviting steps, the floating floor and roof decks, the understated furnishings and cleverly designed built-ins. It's fitting that recreating a minimalist symbol of modern architecture was done so with the simplest of LEGO bricks, the humble 1x1.'   -A Word from the Artist,

And while the aesthetic doesn't quite translate as cleanly in this material as it does at, for example, the Hancock Center, we're pretty sure it would keep any (12+) budding modernist almost as entertained as a (30+) working architect.  


 Have a great weekend!