A PEEK INTO THE WORLD OF MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE AND HOW TO USE IT IN YOUR SPACE
Do you sometimes catch yourself watching episodes of Mad Men but don’t quite remember the plotline because you were staring at the chic office bar cart or a knockout Knoll chair in Don Draper’s apartment? If that’s a yes, let us be the first to say, snaps to you on your spectacular taste! Both iconic and playful, Mid-Century Modern style (of which Mad Men is known for) is as arresting as they come. Pop a Mid-Century Modern piece into just about any room and it becomes just a bit more sensational.
So, what exactly is Mid-Century Modern? It’s a broad term associated with furniture that was constructed between 1940 and 1970. Some of the characteristics that are easy to spot include the prevalence of teak, durable upholstery, and pencil legs. If these design themes sound fabulous to you, consider yourself a Mid-Century Modern enthusiast. And honestly, we can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be!
THE HISTORY OF MID-CENTURY MODERN DESIGN
In the 1930s, Germany was in the throes of the Bauhaus movement. European design was heavily influenced by this (here, there Mies Van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer!) and designers everywhere concurred that the focus should be on both style and function. After WWII, new materials such as bent plywood and fiberglass became widely available to designers and this opened up a whole new range of possibilities like biomorphic shapes. Around this time Knoll and Herman Miller began mass production of furniture, taking the sculpted goodness of Mid-Century Modernism to the masses. This meant low-cost furniture that was functional, stylish and accessible to everyone—win, win, win!
THREE ESSENTIAL MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE PIECES
Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair
Even if you didn’t know what exactly was Mid-Century Modern furniture was, chances are you’ve seen (and you've admired!) an Eames Molded Fiberglass chair. Designed for the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design held by the Museum of Modern Art to promote low-cost furnishing designs in the post-war period, the chair first appeared on the market in 1950. The chair was low on cost but high on style and was immediately embraced by consumers. The Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair is also hands-down the design that best encompasses the ideals of its designers’ Charles and Ray Eames. Succinctly said, Charles and Ray were all about “Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least.”
The Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair is available in different colors and bases and was the first single piece plastic chair that wasn’t upholstered. Use a couple of Eames chairs in bright hues (maybe Terra Cotta or Blood Orange) to make your patio pop and a couple more in more muted shades (Parchment or Dark Seafoam?) to jazz up your dining room. Go with your gut because with these chairs you really can’t go wrong. Eames got your back.
Legend has it that Finnish designer Eero Saarinen created the Womb Chair in 1946 when his friend Florence Knoll challenged him to design a chair that she could curl up in. Needless to say, Saarinen hit it out of the ballpark with this design. In fact, the Womb Chair is now considered one of the most recognizable pieces of Mid-Century Modern design. Watch your guests curl up in a Womb Chair and positively revel in its comfort. This Mid-Century Modern design is also perfect for a study or a reading nook (consider it a reason to pick up that book that has been sitting on your night table for weeks!). Pair it with a cozy throw, and you’re off to see the wizard!
Teak credenzas are absolutely delicious. The gorgeous wood and simple yet striking lines of the design make it a timeless favorite. Whether set on pencil legs or square peg legs a teak credenza brings the Mid-Century Modern mood, and we’re rightfully obsessed. With its go-with-anything stylings, there’s no limit to the ways a teak credenza can be used. Use one to boost a TV in a living room, or use one as a buffet in a dining room. Playroom storage? You bet. Entryway console? Even better. Top it with a vibrant painting, a colorful studio pottery vase, or a vintage lamp. But our favorite thing about a teak credenza? With drawers and cabinets galore, it owns the hide-and-chic game.