The Farnsworth House Collection

Mies van der Rohe’s IBM building in Chicago was finished after his death in 1972. It had a reputation of being a desirable office building, not only because of its architecture but also its location on the Chicago River. 40 years later in 2012, the international hotel chain, The Langham Group, acquired the lower third of the building to convert the existing office spaces into a luxury hotel. At that time Dirk Lohan was asked to divide the existing lobby of the building into two separate lobbies – one for the continuing office portion and one for the new hotel at the Chicago River’s edge. Because the building was already designated a Chicago landmark, it was very important that the new lobby be designed sensitively to harmonize with the Mies concept of the building’s ground floor. The layout of furniture for this new function was carefully selected and developed to fit with the architectural significance of the building.

The pre-existing glass enclosed lobby meant that each furniture item had to hold its weight in the large volume of the space. This is particularly true of the floor lamps which were created to give a warm and welcoming feeling for hotel guests arriving or departing. The side table seamlessly integrates with the lamps, but they are also offered as a stand-alone piece. The lounge chair and settee were inspired by a previous Mies design from the 1950’s. The sideboard was designed with the purpose to store the china necessary to serve tea and coffee to guests.

Dirk Lohan was also instrumental in selecting the significant art to give the hotel lobby the feeling of artistic sophistication. Lastly, the beaded metal curtains were custom designed by Dirk Lohan and hung to create an enclosure that differentiates the hotel’s lobby from the office lobby. The luxe bronze strands provide separation but also allow the view to street and the Loop across the river.