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Furnishing an answer JOHNNY RODGER Mies van der Rohe Architecture and Design in Stuttgart, Barcelona, Brno At the Burrell Collection, Pollok Country Park, Glasgow until 29 August

'Friendship is a social expedient, like upholstery,' wrote Beckett in his small volume on Proust. That sentiment might equally have been uttered by Mies van der Rohe if the power-hungry loner represented in the biographies is a realistic portrait. As for his views on furniture design, we all think we know what they were, and as is typical for any Mies endeavour they are summed up in a catch-phrase: 'standardisation and rationalisation'.

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