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Mid-Century Modern Design

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    Mid-Century Modern Design

    Mid-century modern is a style that’s timeless and sleek. Heavily influenced by the design concept that ‘form follows function’ mid-century homes and furniture are often characterised by their practical designs and beautiful craftsmanship.

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    Popping up as a new trend shortly after World War II and remaining popular until the 1960s, mid-century style and furniture is characterised clean lines, gentle organic curves, inspired by the natural world and simple designs that are functional for the home. It inspired a love for different materials and designers that are idolized even today, some of the most famous mid-century furniture designers are Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Arne Jacobsen.

    While there is some disagreement about when the period started, it roughly lasted from the mid-1930s to mid-1960s. The timeless quality of the style, however, continues to appeal to today's homeowners.

    Background and Influences

    This style grew in America based on earlier styles such as Bauhaus which began in Germany, and the International style, which grew from the Bauhaus style in America. Cataclysmic world events such as wars uproot and destroy, but they can also create opportunities sometimes. This is what happened during and after the World War II when many Bauhaus architects and designers migrated to America as a result of changes in Germany.

    As with war, changing economies and technological advances also affect how we live, and what we want and need. After the Second World War, there was an expansion of cities and suburbanization in the U.S. Along with that emerged a demand for modern furnishings for the new, quickly built modern homes, such as the Eichler homes built in California by Josef Eichler. Technological advances led to production and development of a range of new materials making it possible to explore new textures and effects, colors and even new form.

    Distinguishing Features The distinguishing features of this style consist of a classic, understated look, and clean lines with minimal fuss.

    • Functionality is important, as form follows function
    • Uncluttered and sleek lines with both organic and geometric forms
    • Minimal ornamentation
    • An exploration of different traditional as well as non-traditional materials
    • The juxtaposition of different, and sometimes contrasting materials

    Colour and Materials New methods of construction and new materials such as plastic, dramatically influenced later Mid-Century Modern designers. Plastic was used for its own qualities rather than to imitate wooden furniture. There was liberal use of traditional material, such as wood, and non-traditional materials such as metal, glass, vinyl, plywood, Plexiglass and Lucite. A vast range of colour, including colours from neutral to bold, and graphic use of black and white.

    Mid-Century Modern Designers There are several Mid-century Modern designers of note, and pieces designed by them have continued to inspire designers who came after them. Furniture pieces inspired by their designs, as well as copies are greatly sought after.

    In America, Herman Miller became synonymous with “modern” furniture and worked with the likes of George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames. Knoll is another company known for its classic furniture mid-century modern pieces. Our top five designers of this period include George Nelson, Charles Eames and his wife Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Verner Panton, Alexander Girard.

    Shop our mid-century collection here.

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