The statement that history repeats itself is true, not only for events, but for design as well. Such is the case with mid-century furniture design. While many furniture pieces from the 50s and 60s are still available to an extent, a revival has made it more accessible and easier than ever to get mid-century design styles at affordable prices. By coupling new trends with the cool chic of mid-mod, we’re offered a touch of the old with the flare of the new.
A Product of the Era
The term mid-century modern reflects the design movement that kicked off in the middle of the 20th century. It applies to art, product design, but most commonly on NONAGON.style we’re talking about the furniture and home interior styles from between the 1930s to 1960s.
It is important to understand that mid-century furniture was originally designed during a time of industrial growth. The second world war changed the way in we lived. As more suburban residences grew, the demand for furnishings which could quickly be engrafted into these homes emerged in the USA and Britain.
The furniture from this movement was created to be popular for the masses, which is probably why it has such enduring appeal to this day.
Iconic to the mid-century modern furniture designs are pieces which have clean lines and organic curves. There is also a clear orientation to the materials used, rather than a mixture of several materials. Typically when more than one material is used within the design, you find a hard juxtaposition of different materials. Yes, you may find that you have a cushioned metal chair, but the emphasis will more likely be the form of the metalwork over that of the cushion; the cushion will act as an accent to the focus.
Function and Form
Mid-century modern furniture designs are uncluttered and sleek, characterized by functionality and form. Even when the furniture has a “sporadic” feel, the curves remain organic and the shapes retain the geometric forms. You’ll notice that mid-century modern furniture verges towards a less is more approach.
One of the major features of mid-century modern furniture is the use of dynamic color. It is not uncommon to find oranges, yellows, greens, and reds as a part of mid-century modern design. On the other hand, the main focus of the furniture is on functionality as well as the materials used so you’ll find some of the most iconic styles are simply black or white to accent the natural beauty of the furniture. Take for example the La Chaise chair. Though the majority of the chair is composed of fiberglass, the color still takes a back seat to the design and the material used, specifically to the organic curves and the diverse use of the fiberglass on the metal and wooden legs.
One of the big differences between mid-century modern furniture and Scandinavian design is the types of color used. Scandi-design usually has softer colors, while the mid-century designers liked their pieces to pop.
Mid-century Modern Designers
Several designers made a name for themselves within the modern and mid-century genre of furniture design. Names such as George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, Eileen Gray, Isamu Noguchi, Cerner Panton, Jens Risom, and Alexander Girad can be found in any anthology pertaining to the subject. Additionally, names like Marcel Breuer, considered a master of modern design, still has an impact upon furniture design.
The Cost of Mid-modern Furnishings
The cost of mid-modern furnishings varies depending upon whether you’re looking for original vintage furniture pieces which can cost from around $2,000 USD and up, or happy to mix and match your style with reproduction pieces for less.
Designing with Mid-century Modern Furniture
When designing with mid-century modern furniture it is important to keep functionality in mind. The pieces created are intended for a specific purpose as well as to bring color and life into a space. In many instances, despite being simple and sleek you may want the furniture to stand out. Usually the colors and the materials used in the design are accented.
Plan your room so that the materials do not compete with one another, and so that the curves of organic shapes flow throughout the room rather than having one chair awkwardly placed in the mix. Choose colors that do not clash for the best results. If you’re not sure how it might look, you can always try renting furniture and seeing how the style works in your space.