EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MID-CENTURY MODERN PATIO FURNITURE
The easiest way to rebuke contemporary notions that outdoor furniture has to be big and blocky? Outfit your patio or poolside in Mid-Century Modern patio furniture. Simple, linear, and prolifically pared-down, Mid-Century outdoor furniture is an artful alternative to modern modular patio sets composed of waterproof synthetics and all-weather resins. Thanks to the ample array of options available via online outlets and vintage shops, crafting a patio with Mid-Century outdoor chairs, tables, and loungers has never been easier, either.
Part of the appeal of Mid-Century Modern patio furniture is the way in which it effortlessly embodies indoor aesthetics. In fact, plenty of Mid-Century Modern outdoor dining sets feel like they’d be just at home indoors as out. Likewise, many of the era’s sculptural iron rockers and chairs have all the integrity of their indoor counterparts.
The indoor-outdoor living boom, which took place post-WWII, primarily accounts for the ambiguity between indoor and outdoor 1950s patio furniture. As post-war architects shuffled their playbooks and began churning out modular homes with sliding glass partitions and central atriums, 1950s outdoor furniture was called upon to become a part of the indoor narrative.
Mid-Century Modern outdoor patio furniture comes in a wide array of styles, but when shopping for a pair of Mid-Century outdoor chairs or a Mid-Century patio table, you’re sure to spot some of the era’s hallmarks on repeat. Keep an eye out for atomic accents, or space-age styles that pulled inspiration from the era's all-engrossing Space Race. Iron tables with splayed hairpin legs are common, as are more streamlined tables and chairs with antennae legs.
Wrought iron was also used in more sculpted iterations. Mid-Century outdoor chairs will frequently showcase loopy-legs or backs. Wave-shaped loungers are also common finds—a pair of swoop-y Walter Lamb for Brown Jordan loungers may dock you a pretty penny, but consider them a wise investment in your R&R and overall mental health. The more sinuous iron interpretations hark back to the Hollywood Regency movement which overlapped with Mid-Century Modernism for a stint. Fiberglass, whether spun or molded into amorphous was also used to create 60s patio furniture with atomic connotations.
Unlike today’s patio furniture which requires an overarching sense of congruency to feel polished, Mid-Century Modern outdoor furniture can be rakishly mixed and matched. Squared-off loungers, for instance, can be partnered with ceramic drum stools so long as one adheres to a more neutral color scheme. Bamboo or rattan patio furniture can also be mixed with colorful wrought iron pieces to incite a feeling of eclectic joie de vivre.
When shopping for Mid-Century Modern outdoor furniture, keep an open mind, as outdoor furniture is more likely to bear signs of aging than those vintage pieces that spent the past several decades hunkered down inside. Remember: wrought iron can be sanded and powder coated, while fiberglass can be sanded, primed, and repainted.
3 MID-CENTURY MODERN OUTDOOR PATIO MAKERS TO KNOW
Arthur Umanoff may be the most enigmatic of all Mid-Century Modern designers, but his Mid-Century Modern patio furniture—birch slat barstools, cane bucket seats, wrought iron dining sets adorned with eye-catching trellis details—are decidedly not. Umanoff’s pieces beckon to the do-it-all host who strives to cater to bar-goers in one corner of the patio, round-table gossipers in another, and sunbathers by the pool. With a near endless array of tables, chairs, bar sets, and dining sets to choose from, Arthur Umanoff patio furniture is a one-stop-shop for those looking to load up on all the alfresco essentials in one fell swoop.
A Southern California pedigree means Brown Jordan knows how to cue up an optimal outdoor experience. Best known for their iconic chairs and sprawling, multi-piece dining sets, Brown Jordan patio furniture is the perfect poolside companion. Those looking for classic, no-fuss furniture to bedeck the patio should consider the Tamiami chair which features a wavy frame laced with a trellis of colored vinyl straps. More maximalist Mid-Century enthusiasts may want to seek out Brown Jordan’s collaborations with A-list designers like Dan Johnson and Walter Lamb. Both designers teed up sculptural seats for the brand that would earn instant showpiece status in any backyard.
Every now and then a little Mid-Century kitsch can be a very good thing, especially in a slim-to-none backyard that revolves around a retro, stand-up grill plunked on a plot of perennially-lush turf. With its Midwestern lineage, Homecrest understands that when it comes to patio furniture, sometimes simple really is best. Homecrest patio furniture runs the gamut, but Mid-Century addicts are particularly fond of the brand’s patented Swivel Rocker. The Swivel Rocker features a gridded wrought iron frame, artfully sculpted to cradle the body. While there’s no denying the appeal of its ergonomics, it’s the chair’s unique single-piece, padded seat cover that truly sets the Mid-Century Modern mood. The single-piece design of the pad makes it the perfect vehicle for riotous patterns, and it’s still quite common to find original Swivel Rockers bearing flower-flocked prints and wide cabana stripes in a right-on palette of pastel yellow, lime green, and powder blue.
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