Born in Berlin in 1885, Lilly Reich served an apprenticeship as an industrial embroiderer. In 1908 Lilly Reich went to Vienna, where she worked for the Wiener Werkstätte. Returning to her native Berlin in 1911, Lily Reich began to design furnishings and appointments as well as clothes and also worked as a shop window decorator. In 1912 Lilly Reich joined the Deutscher Werkbund and, in 1920, became the first woman elected to its governing board.
In 1912 Lilly Reich designed a sample flat for a working-class family in the "Berlin Gewerkschaftshaus" (Trade Union House), which was widely praised for the clarity and functionalism of the furnishings. In 1914 Lily Reich took part in the Werkbund exhibition in Cologne. During the first world war, Lilly Reich served as a seamstress.
From 1924 until 1926, Lilly Reich was employed at the Messeamt in Frankfurt, where she was responsible for trade fair design. There she met Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with whom she lived for many years. Lilly Reich became an employee of his practice and collaborated with him in 1927 on organizing the Werkbund exhibition "Die Wohnung" in Stuttgart. For that exhibition, Lilly Reich also designed several interiors.
Together with Mies van der Rohe, Lilly Reich designed a "Wohnraum in Spiegelglas" ("Living Room in Mirror Glass"). In 1929 Lilly Reich was charged with organizing the German contribution to the World Exposition in Barcelona, for which Mies van der Rohe designed the celebrated pavilion. In 1931 Lilly Reich was asked to organize and design the "Deutsche Bau-Ausstellung", a famous architectural trade fair, in Berlin. Around 1932 Lilly Reich was invited by Mies van der Rohe to head the interior design workshop at the Bauhaus but this appointment was cut short when the Bauhaus closed. After the second world war, Lilly Reich taught at the "Hochschule für bildende Künste" in Berlin but illness forced her to resign. She died in Berlin in 1947.
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