The steel-and-glass Google Doodle structure is an homage to German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Mies was an advocate of simplicity and open floor plans.
The architect, who was often known only as “Mies,” used "modern" materials – industrial steel and glass – to create the "bones" of interiors, while emphasizing open spaces and simplicity.
Mies was born in 1886 in Aachen, Germany and, after a stint in his father’s stone carving business, traveled to Berlin to work with architect Bruno Paul. After apprenticing himself to Peter Behrens, another architect, and working on the embassy for the German Empire in St. Petersburg, Russia, during his time with Behrens, Mies started his own architectural firm in Berlin in 1912. He married the next year.
It was after his marriage came to an end in 1921 that Mies, formerly known simply as Ludwig Mies, changed his name to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – Rohe was the maiden name of his mother and “van der” was a traditional part of a Dutch name. Mies possibly added the “van der” section to avoid insulting German aristocrats who would look down on anyone giving him- or herself a self-styled German high-born name without being born to the title.
Mies was inspired by the Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, especially Schinkel’s use of post and lintel construction, and admired the ideas of the Dutch De Stijl and Russian Constructivism movements. Russian Constructivism embraced using architecture to benefit society, while the Dutch De Stijl philosophy advocated simplicity in architecture, a sentiment that dovetailed nicely with the architect's "less is more" mantra.