- 1 How can you tell if furniture is mid-century?
- 2 Is it OK to paint mid century modern furniture?
- 3 Why is mid-century furniture so expensive?
- 4 Is mid-century furniture solid wood?
- 5 What is the difference between retro and mid-century?
- 6 Is mid-century furniture timeless?
- 7 What wood is most mid century modern?
What color wood is mid-century modern?
1. Teak – According to Livingetc, one of the most common wood types used in mid-century designs is teak which is a dark, durable, and high-quality material. It pairs well with bold colors like red, yellow, and orange, and its sturdy nature lends well to stately desks, tables, and storage cabinets.
Are the 70s considered mid-century?
Mid Century Modern Origins – Author Cara Greenberg coined the phrase ‘Mid Century Modern’ in her title of her 1984 book Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s, However, the design style goes back further than the 50s. The Mid Century Modern era refers to the period roughly between the end of World War II through the mid 1970s.
- Mid Century Modern style hit its peak in the middle of the 20th century, hence the ‘mid century’ part of its name.
- The ‘modern’ part comes from the style’s futuristic nature.
- MCM pioneers (such as Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Florence Knoll) wanted to create something that was new and unique.
They experimented with different materials and reimagined traditional styles. The movement sparked as new innovations were developed during WWII, which is why testing new materials in designs was such a significant part of the style. Materials like fiberglass, foam, aluminum, steel, and plastic laminates worked their way into furniture and architecture. The sleek lines of Mid Century Modern style are prominent in this open concept living room/kitchen. Photo by Jim Brown. MCM emphasizes clean, sleek lines with a mix of geometric and organic shapes. Although the furniture is known for its futuristic and often colorful look, the style values minimalism.
- It pushes for functionality and simplicity, while maintaining its unique looks.
- Mixing indoor and outdoor elements like floor to ceiling windows, atriums and lots of plants is also key to Mid Century Modern style.
- Mid Century Modern architecture appreciates open floor plans with low roofs.
- Houses are designed to blend indoor and outdoor elements.
Think atriums, sliding glass doors and floor to ceiling windows to let in lots of light. Rooms were also filled with tons and tons of plants.
How can you tell if furniture is mid-century?
Mid-Century Furniture Style – The mid-century modern design style is characterized by clean lines, simple shapes, new materials, and organic elements. Because mid-century is about functionality little to no embellishments can be found. Designs were meant to be practical and long-lasting. They were also sculptural and truly beautiful to look at.
What years are mid-century furniture?
What is midcentury design? – The movement spanned from about 1933 to 1965 and included architecture as well as industrial, interior, and graphic design. Designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, Arne Jacobsen, and George Nelson created iconic furniture and lighting that are still highly coveted.
Is it OK to paint mid century modern furniture?
It’s been a few years now since the popularity of Mid Century Modern furniture pieces began to grow. I think the trend is probably now here to stay, at least awhile. What used to be more on the fringe of the average decorating style has now become much more mainstrem, and these days MCM pieces are making there way into all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect to see them! In case you’re not familiar with mid century modern furniture, let me give you a quick primer.
Mid century modern (or MCM) refers to a style of pieces from the 50’s and 60’s (hence the term “mid century”) that have clean lines, sleek finishes, and that space-age feel. Think Mad Men, and you’ve probably got a good idea about what constitutes an MCM piece. As vintage MCM pieces began being sold in the past few years, furniture painters started to get their hands on them and paint away,
Sometimes in a way that worked, sometimes in a way that didn’t. Painting a mid century modern piece can be a little tricky. They have such a specific look that you can’t take them very far from their original design. To update an MCM piece well, you have to keep the new design true to the style’s clean, simple original design.
- This is one of those places where furniture painting becomes a little more of a science than just an art form.
- I don’t have a lot of experience making over MCM pieces, but I have one sitting in my garage as we speak waiting on me.
- To prep for this project, I’ve been looking a lot online at other painted mid century pieces that I think have been done really well.
I want to make sure when I’m done with my piece, it’s a “Do” and not a “Don’t”!
Is there a difference between mid-century and mid century modern furniture?
Differences Between Mid-Century and Mid-Century Furniture – Both mid-century and mid-century modern furniture were created in the same era, from the 1930s through the 1960s, making them comparable. There are some distinctions between the two, though:
- Mid-century modern furniture refers especially to furniture designs that are contemporary and utilitarian, with clean lines and basic shapes. Mid-century furniture often refers to furniture pieces that were developed and produced during the mid-20th century.
- While mid-century modern furniture designers were influenced by the Bauhaus movement, which stressed the use of contemporary materials like steel, glass, and plastic, mid-century furniture designers used natural materials such as wood, leather, and metal.
- Mid-century contemporary furniture prioritized simplicity and shunned adornment, but mid-century furniture designs frequently contained intricate detailing.
- Whereas mid-century furniture concentrated more on style and ornamentation, mid-century modern furniture was created to fulfill the needs of a new generation of homeowners who were searching for elegant, practical, and functional furniture that mirrored the modern sensibilities of the time.
Mid-century modern furniture is a distinct subgroup of mid-century furniture that prioritizes efficiency and simplicity above adornment and flair, despite significant overlap between the two styles overall.
Is mid-century modern still in style 2023?
17. Mix Vintage with Modern Pieces – Mid-century modern interior design style by Decorilla designer, Sara M. Mixing vintage and modern pieces is a great way to create an eclectic look in a mid-century modern design. Moreover, combining old and new can add depth and interest to a space.
Will mid-century modern go out of style?
Midcentury modern style design is still alive and well in 2022, but there are right and wrong ways to decorate with MCM pieces, according to the pros. We’ve asked three experts to weigh in on commonly made mid-century modern design mistakes, as well as how to fix them. So before you buy that fifth Eames-style chair, keep reading!
Why is mid-century furniture so expensive?
Why are original Mid century modern pieces so expensive? / / There are a few reasons why vintage mid-century modern furniture pieces may be expensive. One reason is that they are often considered to be highly collectible, and as a result, demand for them can be high, driving up the price.
- Additionally, vintage mid-century modern furniture is often of high quality and was well-made, using materials that were built to last.
- This means that these pieces can be in good condition even after many years, which can make them highly sought after by collectors and others who appreciate the style.
Finally, the limited availability of these pieces can also contribute to their high price, as there are only a certain number of vintage mid-century modern furniture pieces in existence. : Why are original Mid century modern pieces so expensive?
Why do people like mid-century furniture?
Today, more than ever, the midcentury modern look is everywhere. DVRs are set to capture Mad Men ‘s final season playing out on AMC. Flip through the April issue of Elle Décor, and you’ll find that more than half of the featured homes prominently include midcentury furniture pieces.
Turn on The Daily Show and you’ll see the guests sitting in classic Knoll office chairs. If you dine in a contemporary restaurant tonight, there’s a good chance you’ll be seated in a chair that was designed in the 1950s—whether it is an Eames, Bertoia, Cherner, or Saarinen. A few years back, you could stamp your mail with an Eames postage stamp,
Meanwhile, type the words “midcentury” and “modern” into any furniture retailer’s search pane, and you’ll likely come up with dozens of pieces labeled with these design-world buzzwords—despite the fact that there is nothing “midcentury” about the items they describe.
- Over the past two decades, a term describing a specific period of design has become the marketing descriptor du jour,
- Midcentury modern” itself is a difficult term to define.
- It broadly describes architecture, furniture, and graphic design from the middle of the 20th century (roughly 1933 to 1965, though some would argue the period is specifically limited to 1947 to 1957).
The timeframe is a modifier for the larger modernist movement, which has roots in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century and also in the post-World War I period. Herman Miller pieces. Image courtesy Herman Miller. Author Cara Greenberg coined the phrase “midcentury modern” as the title for her 1984 book, Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s, In 1983, Greenberg had written a piece for Metropolitan Home about 1950s furniture, and an editor at Crown urged her to write a book on the topic.
- As for the phrase “midcentury modern,” Greenberg “just made that up as the book’s title,” she says.
- A New York Times review of the book acknowledged that Greenberg’s tome hit on a trend.
- Some love it and others simply can’t stand it, but there is no denying that the 50’s are back in vogue again.
- Cara Greenberg, the author of ‘Mid- Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950’s’ ($30, Harmony Books) manages to convey the verve, imagination and the occasional pure zaniness of the period.” The book was an immediate hit, selling more than 100,000 copies, and once “midcentury modern” entered the lexicon, the phrase was quickly adopted by both the design world and the mainstream.
The popularity of midcentury modern design today has roots at the time of Greenberg’s book. Most of the designs of the midcentury had gone out of fashion by the late 60s, but in the early- to mid-eighties, interest in the period began to return. Within a decade, vintage midcentury designs were increasingly popular, and several events helped to boost midcentury modern’s appeal from a niche group of design enthusiasts into the mainstream.
By the mid-90s, a niche market of collectors had already driven up prices of the original midcentury designs. A New York Times article notes that an original Eames molded plywood folding screen, which had been out of production, was worth as much as $10,000 in 1994. In December 1999, a George Nelson Marshmallow sofa sold for an unprecedented $66,000.
A year later, two George Nelson “pretzel” armchairs sold for just over $2,500 apiece, while a 1965 George Nakashima cabinet sold for $20,700. Some midcentury furniture designs, like the iconic Eames Lounge Chair, never went out of production, but many others had fallen out of production by the mid 90s. And even getting your hands on the pieces that were still being produced would have been challenging without an architect or a designer to order a piece for you.
In the early 1990s that began to change: In 1993, Knoll, a major manufacturer of iconic midcentury designs, opened its SoHo showroom, once to-the-trade only (meaning pieces were sold only to designers and architects, not to consumers), to retail shoppers. Knoll’s direct-to-consumer strategy was in part a reaction to a major downturn in the office furniture market in the late 1980s and early 1990s—the company needed to increase its customer base to make up for lost office business.
The manufacturer also did away with special pricing for architects and designers (typically 40 percent less), and instead offered the lower prices to anyone who walked into the showroom. Knoll immediately saw a huge boost in business, and eventually converted its contract showrooms into “more visible, consumer-oriented sales centers.” As the years passed, more and more pieces that were once to-the-trade only would become available directly to average consumers.
Simultaneously, the 90s brought about reissues of many iconic midcentury designs. Furniture manufacturer Herman Miller was synonymous with the midcentury modern style during its heyday. Under the guidance of George Nelson, Herman Miller was among the first companies to produce modern furniture. However, by 1994, Herman Miller had scaled back its business to focus almost exclusively on office furniture and had been out of the residential furniture market for 30 years.
Like Knoll, Herman Miller would have been impacted by the downturn in the office furniture marketplace. Noticing a trend towards people working at home and creating home offices, Herman Miller saw an opportunity to return to the retail market. The company decided to reissue pieces from the Herman Miller archive under the name Herman Miller for the Home, and to offer these pieces directly to consumers.
- The new pieces remained true to the original designs, but they were updated to use current fabric and material technology (the reissues were also stamped with a medallion to distinguish them from vintage pieces).
- The company was also motivated by consumer frustration, according to Mark Shurman, director of corporate communications for Herman Miller.
Both the limited number of vintage pieces and the low-quality knock-offs that had flooded the marketplace inspired Herman Miller to reissue the beloved designs. By bringing these classic designs back into production, Herman Miller was protecting its designs and its reputation.
- The copycat market also gave Herman Miller confidence that the designs had a market.
- Herman Miller also took an early wager on e-commerce, launching a website in 1998.
- The company’s bets paid off: From the moment they were reintroduced, the Herman Miller pieces have been in high demand.
- The sales of the contemporary reproductions of the vintage midcentury designs got a huge boost in 1999, when a California entrepreneur, Rob Forbes, launched Design Within Reach, a direct-mail catalog and online business.
(While many make fun of the company’s name today, it was meant to describe the ease with which consumers could purchase the products, not their prices.) Not only did DWR give consumers direct access to midcentury modern pieces that were once sold only to the trade, but the catalogs also functioned as a design education for the masses. A pair of Knoll Barcelona chairs once owned by Charles Gwathmey, offered for $24,000 via 1stdibs.com, At the low end of the collectors’ market, vintage mass-produced pieces commanded (and still command) what some might consider astonishing prices for items that were made by the thousand.
- Today, an Eames fiberglass shell chair in good condition might sell for just $150, but an Eames Lounge Chair from the 1970s can command easily $7,000.
- Prices for some pieces did drop-off with the reissues and the advent of eBay, which made the vintage market more accessible.
- For example, it would be unusual for an original Eames screen to command today the $10,000 that the New York Times mentioned in the late 1990s.) And prices can quickly climb: collectors of the midcentury value the patina of age on the original pieces, and are willing to pay, especially if a piece is in original, non-restored, condition or has an interesting provenance.
A pair of Barcelona chairs, another common design, was recently offered for $24,000 on 1stdibs.com, an online marketplace for antiques (a similar pair with no provenance might fetch a mere $4,000), but collectors would have been paying a premium to own chairs that came from the estate of architect Charles Gwathmey. The Carlo Mollino table that sold for $3.9 million. Image courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. True collectors aren’t just snapping up vintage Eames lounge chairs. Rather, they are after one-of-a-kind pieces that have documented history and provenance. The market for these midcentury gems has exploded in the last ten years.
- Joshua Holdeman, Sotheby’s worldwide head of 20th-century design, points to the 2005 auction of a Carlo Mollino table that sold for $3.9 million as a turning point for midcentury modern furniture’s auction market.
- It was the first time that something in the midcentury had made such a breakout price,” says Holdeman.
“That was a signifier that these objects were extremely important in the history of design—and to collectors.” Media also played a role in midcentury modern’s popularity. Wallpaper* and Dwell are two magazines that deserve much credit for championing the midcentury look.
Wallpaper launched in 1996 and Dwell in 2000. The mainstream design media has also taken notice of the trend; the now-mostly-traditional House Beautiful, for example, devoted multiple pages to Herman Miller for the Home’s launch in 1994 (after having covered midcentury modern design extensively in the 1960s).
In its review of the century, Time magazine called the Eames Molded Plywood Chair the “Best Design of the 20th Century,” describing the design as “something elegant, light and comfortable. Much copied but never bettered.” Mentions of “mid-century modern” and “midcentury modern” in the New York Times show a sharp upward spike from the mid-80s to the present day.
- Cultural institutions also did their part to celebrate the midcentury designs.
- The Museum of Modern Art, in particular, championed the modernist furniture movement from its start.
- MoMA’s 1940 “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition brought attention to modern design (the competition was won by two then-unknown students, Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, who collaborated on a chair design).
The Museum was so interested in promoting modern design that visitors could actually sit on the furniture in the 1941 exhibition of the finalists from the Organic Design competition. Just five years later, MoMA devoted an entire show to Eames’s furniture designs.
More recent exhibitions have raised the public’s awareness of midcentury design. In 1999, the Library of Congress organized an expansive exhibition devoted to the work of Charles and Ray Eames. The show was mounted in six major cities over three years, making Eames a household name around the globe. A decade later, MoMA exhibited a selection of more than 100 midcentury objects from its design collection under the title “What Was Good Design? MoMA ‘s Message 1944-56.” In 2001, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented the first major study of midcentury modern California design, “California Design, 1930-1965: ” Living in a Modern Way,” Exhibitions of midcentury modern design continue to be popular across the country; in fact, the LACMA exhibit was still touring last year, when it was shown at the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts.
In 2014, The Contemporary Jewish Museum presented “Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism.” The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has an event scheduled for April 10 called “Mad Style: Midcentury Modern Design.” Inspired by Mad Men, the event offers a curator-led tour of MFA’s collection of midcentury design and cocktails and encourages guests to “dress in your 1950’s chic.” As MFA’s event suggests, popular culture has also helped to bring midcentury modern design into the mainstream. However, it’s not just period pieces like Mad Men or Jason Bates’ immaculate 1980s apartment, complete with Barcelona lounge chairs and ottomans, that made the public aware of the period. midcentury icons are everywhere in film, television, and advertisements.
On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has interviewed all of his guests sitting on Mesh Management Chairs from the Eames Aluminum Group. In a late ’90s television ad for L’Oreal, Heather Locklear appears seated on an Arne Jacobsen Egg chair; the same design appeared again in a Razr phone print ad in 2008. Midcentury modern furniture makes frequent cameos in advertisements because of its clean, well-designed lines, but also perhaps because of a familiarity that advertisers believe the pieces lend their promotions.
Midcentury modern design is by no means the only furniture style to have come back into vogue after its day. In the late 1960s, the Art Deco style became very popular. (Like the term “midcentury modern,” “art deco” was not coined until a later generation took an interest in the period.) Likewise, the early American looks of the Queen Anne, Chippendale, and Federal periods, which originated in the 18th and early 19th century, all enjoyed revivals in the 1920s and 30s, and then again in the 1980s when well-to-do Boomers took an interest in the period.
- Collectors in the 1980s who could not afford the original early American pieces began buying the early 20th century reproductions, which had a patina of age that contemporary reproductions did not.
- It’s possible that if the midcentury look falls out of popularity and comes back into fashion decades from now, the early 21st century reissues will become collectible in the same way a 1930s Chippendale reproduction did in the 80s.
Why does midcentury modern continue to be popular, and why have contemporary retailers and manufacturers embraced its clean-lined look so emphatically? Midcentury pieces are simply well-designed objects, with a timeless look, says Sotheby’s Holdeman.
Sit very well in contemporary homes and interiors—they still feel fresh today, they still feel modern. A lot of those pieces haven’t been bettered. They still stand the test of time.” Familiarity is also a factor in midcentury’s enduring popularity. Baby boomers who grew up with midcentury designs are certainly part of the market for both the originals and the reproductions.
For this generation, the designs are a direct connection to their youth. (At the same time, many Boomers want something different. Stacey Greer, a midcentury furniture dealer interviewed by NPR, told a reporter, “They grew up with it and their parents had bought it, so they want anything but that.”) Generation X can also be blamed for midcentury’s more recent prevalence.
In a 1998 article about Gen X’s interest in midcentury design, interior designer Jim Walrod hypothesized that the appeal of the period to “Generation X, even those without knowledge of its origins, is natural because of ”an invisible reference point” young people acquired after years of exposure to the art direction of old movies and television shows, not to mention the teak and stainless-steel contents of their parents’ living rooms.” With “midcentury modern” designs available at retailers like West Elm, the period’s look is also being marketed to millennials.
At the higher end of the market, Holdeman sees the interest in midcentury furniture running parallel to the market’s taste for contemporary art. (Above, a circa 1950 low table from Sotheby’s December 2014 auction of the Jon Stryker collection of European Modernism.) “The entire French midcentury portion of our category has become one of the blue-chip anchors of our market today,” says Holdeman.
It’s largely connected to the contemporary art world—the way in which those two categories complement each other.” A Damien Hirst or a Jeff Koons is going to look more at home with a Prouvé chair than a Louis XIV one, so contemporary art collectors have embraced the period. The trend toward urban living may also be part of what keeps the midcentury look alive.
“The designs were conceived for the smaller post-war home,” says Greenberg, who notes that they were designed to be mobile and lightweight for city residents who moved frequently. “All of that still plays into the way we live today.”
What makes a mid-century modern table?
Mid Century Modern Furniture 101: Everything You Need to Know – Mid-Century Modern furniture is characterized by its clean lines, gentle curves, and organic shapes. This style originated mid-20th century, hence its name but thanks to its elegant simplicity and timeless aesthetic, Mid-Century Modern MCM furniture is still highly popular in contemporary interior design.
- Notice how the smooth curves of the wooden lounge chair and dining table legs meld seamlessly with the black leather sofa, white plastic chairs, blue cushions and colorful rug. This type of diversity in material, color, and texture is a hallmark of mid-century design.
- While there may be some overlap in the two styles, they are not one and the same.
- Mid century design features soft curves, modern shapes with minimalist materials that evoke a sense of nostalgia for a time gone by.
- It typically includes furniture pieces like armchairs, sofas and dining tables made from wood or metal frames with upholstery in bold geometric prints or solid hues.
- Furniture design hasn’t shifted in such a major or lasting way since.
- Postmodernism, characterized by bright colors and rounded shapes, was never as dominant during its 1980s and early ’90s heyday.
- And by the late ’90s — more than a decade before the hit TV series “Mad Men” premiered — mid-century modernism was making a full-blown comeback.
- After a nearly three-decade pivot to commercial office furniture, the company began reissuing popular residential pieces in 1994 under a retail initiative called Herman Miller for the Home.
- Amy Auscherman, Herman Miller’s director of archives and brand heritage, says the timing of the relaunch simply reflected the “natural trend evolution” of things tending to come back into style after 30 years or so.
- Mid-century modern is considered modern design because it still values function over form, but it adds its own unique twist.
- Mid-century modern uses dynamic decorative accents, unlike more traditional modern design, which favors keeping decorative items to a minimum.
- This particular aesthetic originated in Palm Springs in the ‘50s.
- Shop Mid-Century Living Rooms Mid-century modern furniture is elongated with bold shapes.
- Backs of chairs are often flared.
- Furniture is designed to look minimal, geometric, and retro.
- Mid-century modern chairs and bed frames are leggy and tapered.
- Lighting is cone-shaped.
- Woods are warm-toned.
- Molded plastic and other modern materials like fiberglass, steel, and plastic are go-to materials.
- Throwing down a couple floor pillows, adding plants, and opening spaces up with low furniture and arched lighting are a few easy ways to make your home more mid-century modern.
- Mid-century modern spaces look and feel more lived-in than traditional modern homes.
- Mid-century modern enthusiasts love abstract, atomic, and geometric patterns.
- Many bohemian furniture pieces are inspired by mid-century modern design but use raw or mixed wood instead of plastic or other materials.
- Bohemian style values bold pops of color, eye-catching patterns, and layered textures.
- It’s more of a mix-and-match approach to decorating.
- It is characterized by its global accents, wall hangings, colorful textiles, and uses of natural elements like woven rattan and faux fur.
Can you mix traditional and mid-century furniture?
Mixing furniture from different periods can make for an eclectic and stylish interior design scheme, especially if you’re feeling adventurous! Here at AC Silver, we’re big fans of decorating spaces using antique silver and antique furniture (as you could probably guess!) However, we know that mixing and matching a lot of different styles is easier said than done.
What Colour is mid-century furniture?
For our midcentury modern color palette, we love ochres, browns, soft whites, warm neutrals—and a signature spike of red. Explore the quintessential hues of this streamlined, sophisticated style.
Is mid-century furniture solid wood?
Know What Defines Mid Century Furniture – This is day one, week one stuff. Don’t go shopping for it without even knowing what it is because you are setting yourself up to fail. If you need a crash course, take yourself to our mid century modern guide,
Mid century furniture is characterised by clean lines, open sides and classic shapes. If a piece looks ornate or has what feels like extraneous details then treat it with caution. Mid century furniture is often crafted from solid woods, notably teak, elm, beech and rosewood, Keep an eye out for a healthy grain, particularly on table tops.
Designers did not, however, turn their back on veneer furniture so don’t discredit a piece as fake because it feels too light. Plastics, metals and fibreglass were also used so don’t dismiss pieces made from these materials either.
What is the difference between retro and mid-century?
Is mid century and retro the same? – The concept of mid century and retro furnishings can often be confusing, especially when considering the similarities between them. Mid century refers to designs produced from the 1940s to 1970s, while retro is a style that has been inspired by those decades.
Retro on the other hand has elements of mid-century design but also incorporates bright colours and eclectic patterns which give it an overall funky vibe compared to its predecessor.
Is Grey a mid-century modern color?
Create a Warm Space with Smoke Gray – This darker gray is a popular choice for many mid-century designs simply because it goes with almost all neutral colors. From warm accent colors like amber to cool dark greys and blacks, this shade of gray goes with them all. One of our designers, Glenna Stone, chose a darker smoke gray as the paint color for this Philadelphia study and it exudes sophistication.
Is mid-century furniture timeless?
What is mid-century? – Mid-century is the name for the design, architecture and furniture of the mid 20th century. It’s a timeless aesthetic, combining traditional and modern styles to create pieces that will never go out of fashion.
Is mid-century modern furniture timeless?
In the late 1990s, when mid-century modern furniture was making a comeback, interior designer Brad Dunning and his friends would excitedly call each other whenever they spotted an Eames lounger or another recognizable piece on television. Now, if they did that, they would never get off the phone.
Mid-century modern is “not even a trend anymore — it’s the dominant aesthetic,” says Dunning, who curated an exhibit last year on modern chairs for the Palm Springs Art Museum in California. “It’s either fascinating or depressing that we haven’t replaced with anything better. But it is a marker that those designs were so strong that they have lasted this long.” Though the label gets thrown around even when describing brand-new items (the “Petrie Midcentury Sofa” at Crate & Barrel, for instance), in its truest sense, mid-century modern refers to furnishings designed from the late 1940s into the 1970s.
Its clean lines and modest proportions often translate to timelessness, offering one clue about why mid-century modernism seems like it will never die. But its staying power is mostly thanks to its founding principle: high-minded design that’s also functional and widely accessible — an ethos that has propelled the style not only through time, but from showrooms and living rooms into American pop culture.
When it first came into fashion, mid-century modernism supplanted Colonial-revival and other fussier, traditional styles that dominated before World War II. “Mid-century modern designers were trying to get back to the core of what an object is and what it’s supposed to do,” says Katherine White, curator of design at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation near Detroit.
Rather than mimicking preexisting styles, they made “foundational changes” to what furniture could be, she explains. The result: pieces that were affordable, high-quality, and scaled for city apartments and the smaller homes built during the postwar boom.
“Certainly some people discovered it through ‘Mad Men, ‘” says Dan Bishop, the show’s production designer. But he readily acknowledges it was already in the cultural ether: “Even the people who didn’t really watch TV, they still understood it.” Though “Mad Men” might have supercharged the style’s popularity in the aughts, the likely culprit for its ’90s resurgence is Herman Miller, the furniture maker behind famous mid-century designs such as the Noguchi table, the Nelson Saucer Bubble pendant and the aforementioned Eames lounger.
The “nostalgia pendulum theory” attempts to explain why this happens — it says trends follow a 30-year cycle because the people who enjoyed them as children are by then grown-up consumers. Herman Miller was apparently onto something: Today, Auscherman says the company sells more Eames loungers than at any time in its history.
The company also had a lot to do with making the mid-20th century the only American furniture era in which the designers themselves became household names. In 1945, Herman Miller hired George Nelson, then a prominent architect and writer, as head of design. Nelson produced his own pieces — including the now omnipresent Bubble pendant, but also the Marshmallow sofa and Coconut chair — and recruited contemporaries such as Charles and Ray Eames and Isamu Noguchi.
Furniture company Knoll similarly tapped into a design dream team under the leadership of Florence Knoll, who acquired the exclusive rights to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s work — including his famous Barcelona chair — and paid designers royalties for their creations, which resulted in Eero Saarinen’s iconic Tulip chairs and tables, and Harry Bertoia’s Diamond chair.
Never before were so many top designers mass-producing their work for average households. “It was just a unique period,” says Oscar Fitzgerald, author of ” American Furniture Designers: 1900-2020,” What resulted, he says, was “absolutely beautiful.” (In 2021, Herman Miller acquired Knoll, forming MillerKnoll.) The broad availability of such appealing designs also helped lodge them firmly into pop culture, and in the decades since their debut, they’ve shown up in some unexpected places.
The 1999 Destiny’s Child music video for “Say My Name,” for example, serves up a mid-century buffet: You can spot an Eames compact sofa, a Warren Platner coffee table, a Noguchi table and an Eileen Gray side table. Malena Brush, owner of Habitat Gallery in Culver City, Calif.
, works with set decorators and designers who are “the ones picking out these pieces over and over and over again and using them in commercials and television and print,” she says. “You’re being inundated with them as a consumer. Even if it’s not a direct advertisement for furniture, you’re seeing these pieces, these classics, over and over and over again.” Aside from seeping into the American subconscious, there are some very practical explanations for mid-century modernism’s enduring appeal.
For one thing, the simplicity of the designs makes them exceptionally adaptable. Nina Barnieh-Blair, principal of interior design firm NinaBDesign in New York City, says the aesthetic remains the ideal building block for decor: “It’s one of the few styles that you can actually incorporate with other interior design styles.” When she designs for couples who disagree about how they’d like their home to look, the versatility of mid-century modernism often provides the foundation for compromise.
“I’ve used mid-century furniture in even really historic buildings — it’s still relevant,” says Jacu Strauss, creative director of hospitality design firm Lore Group, “In Amsterdam, I did a hotel that was 400 years old with Verner Panton chairs.” Even someone who doesn’t love their bold, heart-cone shape and red color can recognize how comfortable they are, he says.
“That’s why it has such broad appeal.” The craftsmanship is about more than good looks. Mid-century modern pieces represent “the last great period of solid quality construction,” says Douglas Meyers, owner of Modern Mobler, a vintage seller in D.C. and Maryland.
The big-box stores of that era, such as Sears Roebuck, sold furniture that was both affordable and built to last. Comparatively, when you buy something at today’s less expensive chains — say, Ikea or Wayfair — you rarely expect it to survive more than a few years. “There’s some pragmatic discussion of why these pieces have held on and survived — they just haven’t fallen apart,” says Dunning, whose Palm Springs exhibit on modern chairs highlighted this quality.
“The pieces are just sturdier and more durable. People move around a lot and these pieces can get thrown in the back of a truck — literally thrown — and survive to the next stop.” At this point, mid-century purveyors have watched items go through multiple life cycles.
I have pieces that I sold 25 years ago, but since that time I’ve gotten back and sold another two or three times,” says Courtney Newman, owner of ModernWay in Palm Springs, Calif. “Because it’s so well-made and so iconic in style, it kind of never leaves the marketplace.” The pieces have, however, become less affordable.
Highly sought items in pristine condition — an original Saarinen Tulip dining table, for instance, or a Vladimir Kagan Serpentine sofa — are a blue-chip investment. “The true classics are here to stay. They’re not going anywhere, and they’re just going to increase in demand and desirability,” says Brush.
As bargain-priced knockoffs of the more recognizable pieces proliferate, serious collectors have begun seeking out lesser-known mid-century designers from other countries, such as Japan and Italy. “People are just digging deeper now, but they’re still mining the mid-century vein,” says Dunning. “People’s entry drug was American mid-century with Herman Miller.
But now they’re so addicted, they’re searching the globe for these more arcane and obscure designs.”
What style is closest to mid-century modern?
Pro Tip: – Learn more about modern design by checking out our guide, What Is Modern Design? Mid-century modern is one of the most organically modern styles. Mid-century modern has a retro feel and utilizes bright and bold pops of saturated colors. In the 1950s, pop art (think Andy Warhol) and the Space Age (think The Jetsons) were both iconic, and their influences are heavily evident in mid-century modern design.
At the time, this was the place to vacation for celebrities. Houses were flat with low roofs and open floor plans. Living and dining rooms were designed for entertaining many people at once. You’ll notice a lot of big dining tables and bar carts in mid-century design.
Shop Mid-Century Sofas One of the reasons mid-century modern decor has stuck around for so long is because many young people and families continue to move to urban areas. Decorating a smaller living space is easy when using the influences of mid-century modern design, and the simple and approachable decor is designed to be used by everyone.
Keeping floor space open, making seating areas comfy, and showing off your personality without adding clutter are a couple of things to keep in mind when decorating a mid-century modern home. Shop Mid-Century Lighting Bohemian style is included in the mid-century modern brand because both share many of the same influences.
Shop Ottomans + Poufs Mid-century modern has been around for a while, but it continues to inspire fresh and new decorating ideas. Take one last peek at some of our favorite mid-century modern ideas. Mid-Century Modern Style Shop
Is mid-century considered vintage?
What distinguishes an antique from a vintage piece? The answer to this riddle, most designers concur, is a century—give or take. “If you go by the rules, technically a piece has to be 100 years old to be considered an antique,” explains designer Roger Higgins of R.
Higgins Interiors, But when it comes to vintage, Higgins says, the guidelines are far less defined. Vintage could refer to just about anything these days, from Art Deco pieces of the 1930s all the way on up to the, eek, motivational signs that took over bedroom walls in the 2010s. (Though, worth noting, most designers wouldn’t consider any trends of the 2000s to be vintage,
yet). “Antiques are typically classified as being 100 years or older and vintage pieces are anything less than that,” says interior designer Linda Eyles, “For me, if I’m working with something that is midcentury on up to about the 90s, I would consider that vintage.” When it comes to designing with vintage pieces, Eyles says, a little goes a very long way and they can make a big impact as accessories.
Think: small tables, mirrors, or lamps to bring color and a sculptural element to a space, she says. Or, you can ease into vintage design by popping in napkin rings from, say, the 80s with rose-patterned china at your next dinner party. Love knowing all the latest design trends? We’ve got you covered Eyles always likes to have at least one antique piece on every project because it “brings depth and soul to a home.” She’s a cheerleader for clean pieces—a Louis Phillippe chest in an entry, for example.
On a favorite project she completed in a client’s living room, Eyles paired a group of geometric Biedermeier chairs with a Saarinen Tulip table, a flower-shaped table with a tapered “stem” leg that was pioneered a half century ago by architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen, A selection of midcentury modern furniture, which is usually deemed “vintage,” since it’s less than 100 years old. CSA Images // Getty Images But there’s one more important point in defining antique vs. vintage. The terms designers use to describe “older” pieces infer more than just time periods, explains interior designer Samantha Gallacher of IG Workshop and the founder of Art+Loom based in Miami.
Beyond being 100 years or older, antiques have a historic feel. Vintage, in Gallacher’s opinion, ranges from the 1920s to the 1980s but is also synonymous with original and authentic when it comes to inspiration and design, especially for the home. For a curveball, “retro” is used to describe something with an older style, but it isn’t confined to a certain time period, Gallacher explains.
“The piece itself may not be original or older but instead it could be a contemporary reproduction that references a style from the past,” she explains. ( Hello, Smeg appliances ! ) Want to incorporate more vintage and antique finds into your own home? Here are five furniture items and home accessories you should always buy secondhand,
What is the difference between Danish and mid-century modern?
Scandinavian Living Room Furniture Vs. Mid Century Modern Living Room Furniture – often includes furniture pieces such as sofas, armchairs, and coffee tables. The goal is to create a cosy and welcoming atmosphere, and this is often achieved through the use of comfortable, functional furniture.
As you would expect, Mid Century Modern living room furniture tends to be more sophisticated in design. You might see pieces such as sofas, armchairs, and coffee tables made from a wide range of materials such as metal, plastic, and glass. Typical of the style, these pieces often feature clean lines, geometric shapes, and bold, vibrant colours.
Scandinavian and Mid Century Modern styles are both characterised by their focus on functionality and simplicity. However, they differ in terms of the materials and colours used, as well as their history and overall aesthetic. Scandinavian style is known for its use of natural materials and light, neutral colours, while Mid Century Modern style incorporates a wider range of materials and bold, vibrant colours.
What wood is most mid century modern?
Oak is widely used in mid-century modern furniture and is still hugely popular today.
What wood is used for midcentury modern furniture?
What wood is used for mid-century modern furniture? – The wood most synonymous with mid-century modern furniture is teak. Rich, dark, durable, and recognized as a sign of quality, teak paired well with the bold colors associated with the era and was often used for tables, desks, and storage. (Image credit: GRT Architects) Lighter still than oak is beech, most often used to make the frames of chairs and sofas due to its strength and high shock resistance. Being a paler wood, the use of beech in mid-century modern furniture is a definite nod to the movement’s Scandinavian influences.
What color is most mid century modern furniture?
Midcentury Modern Color Palette Warm, natural materials and soft sculptural lines are synonymous with midcentury modern interiors. Cultivated by a range of designers and artists between the ’30s and mid-’60s, today, midcentury modern design remains as powerful and relevant as ever. Combine organic, warm colors and sleek, industrial white and blue-gray hues with pops of red to capture the spirit of midcentury modern style. Clean midcentury design allows for interesting plays on texture and shape. Here, a Noguchi-inspired lamp reflects the Japanese influence on midcentury modern. Black and white is always a midcentury modern go-to, found here with an elegant rug with an animal print-meets-cubism twist.
Warm browns are always welcome in a midcentury modern living room as seen here with a low-slung coffee table and simple leather stool. The enveloping warmth of an in showcases the power of rich in midcentury modern design. Furniture and home accessories influenced by midcentury-modern designers remain wildly popular today.
Look for inspiration from names like Eames, Eero Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe. You can find midcentury modern-inspired furniture in a range of retailers, from Design within Reach to Wayfair to Target. As seen in our photo showcase below, midcentury modern chairs are homeowner favorites. Here, a Bertoia chair and ottoman in soft beige, and a light wood credenza are surrounded by tranquil blue-gray walls in, a beloved hue from our, As an alternative, consider, a mid-tone, soft with a gray-green cast—from our midcentury modern palette above—to achieve this look. “I have always used midcentury furnishings in my design,” says, a designer featured in Benjamin Moore’s “It brings a soulful touch to a room as all antiques do, and midcentury designs give the room a more modern feel that other period antiques might not.” From his headquarters in San Francisco, Jeffers regularly designs luxurious spaces infused with styles, including midcentury modern. Midcentury modern design juxtaposes organic and neutral elements with crisp linearity and curated color. ‘Honest’ materials like wood and stone, with their authentic natural properties, ensure the midcentury modern home retains a relaxed, welcoming energy. Ochre,, and mustard are all classic midcentury modern paint colors. Whether paired with other colors or used for a clean,, these earthy hues reflect the handcrafted, organic nature of midcentury modern design. The understated warmth of teak, and other medium-toned woods—as seen in this floating credenza—is a trademark of midcentury modern style. Midcentury modern color choices are always purposeful, strategic and thoughtful. The same holds true for exteriors. A in a lively color is always a win, providing both curb appeal and welcome-home happiness. From golden yellow, shown here, to something more bold—think,, and from our midcentury modern color palette, —a colorful front door makes a statement. Get colorful ideas for your next alfresco paint project. See the paint colors that pop within a range of styles and trends. Enjoy rich, vibrant color with unprecedented durability. Buy one or more color samples to help finalize your choice of color—and ensure peace of mind. : Midcentury Modern Color Palette
What wood is used for mid century modern cabinets?
Custom Options for Mid-Century Modern Kitchen Cabinets – Our complete customization options go beyond building your cabinets to the ideal specs for a kitchen’s layout. We give contractors the freedom to choose exactly how cabinets look, feel and perform:
Wood species : Oak and red oak are classics for mid-century design. Ash offers a lighter look with clear finishes. Teak and rosewood are beautiful for this style as well, but their elevated price puts them out of range for many homeowners. Cabinet Door Design: For this design style, we recommend slab door panels with solid drawer fronts, Cabinet Hardware: Keep hardware simple and sleek. Some curves add 50s flair, or you can go modern with straight lines. Drawers and Shelving: The functional aspect of MCM kitchens means drawers, shelves, slide-outs and other organization features are a must. Get great results by speaking with clients about their lifestyle and making sure cabinets deliver the storage they need. Finish: Many contractors choose a clear-coat finish to let the hardwood shine through. It’s your choice whether to stain or not.
The importance of wood in a mid-century modern kitchen remodel is impossible to overstate. Custom cabinets are one of the smartest choices you can make for this type of project. Get started right away to have premium custom cabinets ready in just 10 days.