Even though phrase dates back to a poem written in 1855, it was made popular by furniture designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe who was one of the founders of the modern simplistic style that we are all familiar with today.
I really admire his work. What's ironic to me though is how the man who was famous for saying "less more" had a name that was longer than the quote he itself (25 letters vs 12). Maybe Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe's was so tired of saying his name that he finally decided to make a declaration that less is more. Who knows?