Here is a little background about Mid-Century Modern style. Mid-Century style refers to a period between the mid- 1940s to the late 1960s. During this time in the U.S. there was a booming economy and a rapidly growing population. Young families were buying and furnishing homes, suburbs grew around burgeoning urban areas with homes and buildings that reflected optimism and confidence in a new and modern world.
To meet the desires of the new home buyer, designers experimented with forms and materials to create a truly iconic style. Designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, George Nelson and Harry Bertoia created dynamic furniture and lighting, many forms of which are still recognizable and in use today.
So, what characteristics define the Mid-Century furniture?
STYLE. Mid-Century Modern furniture is understated. People wanted to put the Depression and war years behind them and to embrace a new and modern look. Busy rooms of overstuffed coaches and chairs overflowing with chachkas were gone. The new style embraced clean lines and a no-fuss attitude.
SHAPE. The forms used are organic and geometric. Geometric repetition gives an order to the look while organic shapes provide a relaxing and softening counterbalance.
FUNCTIONALITY. Functionality is paramount. Homes with busy, active families demanded furniture that conserved space and was efficient in use. Multipurpose furniture and pieces that stacked, folded or nested became popular.
MATERIALS. New materials are used in unexpected ways. Modern materials such as phenolic laminates, fiberglass and plexiglass opened new methods of constructing and engineering furniture. Durable, easy to clean phenolic laminate was an ideal material for table and counter tops. Fiberglass and plywood could be molded into flowing shapes that fit the body. Clear or colored plexiglass offered a tantalizing look, combining transparency in a solid building material.
Today, with many of us living in smaller spaces such as condos, apartments or “downsizing” from a large family home, Mid-Century furniture’s clean lines, organic curves, use of materials and multifunctional designs are a perfect match. If you want to enjoy the energy of Mid-Century style in your current home, incorporate a few iconic pieces of neutral tone, seeking a balance of color, texture, size and shape.
I hope today’s episode persuades you to take a closer look at Mid-Century furniture. It’s an inspiring look that never really went out of style.