Lucie Rie was born in 1902 in Vienna, where she studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule under Michael Powolny from 1922 to 1926. In 1938, she moved to London, where she lived from 1939 in Albion Mews. After the war she opened a pottery and button-making workshop where she was joined in 1946 by Hans Coper.
Rie taught at Camberwell School of Art from 1960 to 1971 and in 1969 received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art. She was awarded the OBE in 1968 and the CBE in 1981, and was created a Dame in 1991. She continued to work into her late eighties but after a series of strokes she was forced to stop working in 1990. Rie died at her home in 1995.
Rie's earliest London exhibitions, starting in 1949, were at the Berkeley Galleries (many of them shared with Hans Coper), and from 1954 she exhibited individually or with Coper in New York, Minneapolis, Göteborg, Rotterdam, Arnhem, Hamburg and Düsseldorf, as well as in a number of British galleries. Retrospective exhibitions of her work were mounted by the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1967 and at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1981. During the rest of her lifetime further important exhibitions of her work were organised in Tokyo and Osaka in 1989 by the fashion designer Issey Miyake, in London by the Crafts Council in 1992 and a joint retrospective was held with Hans Coper at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1994.