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Mid-Century Modern Furniture

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A Peek into the World of Mid-Century Modern Furniture and How to Incorporate it into 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 the knockout knoll chair in Don Draper’s apartment?

Yes? Then, let’s be friends because you have spectacular taste!

Both iconic and playful, Mid-Century Modern style (of which Mad Men arguably single-handedly brought back in style) is as arresting as they come. Pop a Mid-Century Modern piece into just about any room and that room becomes just a bit more sensational.

So, What Exactly is Mid-Century Modern?

Mid-Century Modern is broad term that’s associated with furniture that was constructed between 1940 and 1970. Some characteristics that are easy to spot include:

The prevalence of teak

Durable upholstery

Pencil legs

Minimal ornamentation

Contradicting materials and textures

Geometric shapes

Simple, uncluttered forms

Do these design themes sound fabulous to you? Well, then consider yourself a Mid-Century Modern enthusiast.

Honestly, we can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be!

THE HISTORY OF MID-CENTURY MODERN DESIGN

Germany was in the throes of the Bauhaus movement in the 1930s, which was founded by Walter Gropius. Gropius combined two schools — the Weimar Academy of Arts and Weimar School of Arts and Crafts — into “Bauhaus,” which means “house of building.”

Within the Bauhaus movement, designers everywhere agreed that the focus should be on both style and function.

European design was heavily influenced by this. It later went on to take over the world!

Mies Van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer, anyone?

After WWII, new materials like bent plywood and fiberglass became widely available to designers. As a result, a whole new range of possibilities opened up, such as biomorphic shapes.

Around this time Knoll and Herman Miller began furniture mass production, making the sculpted goodness of Mid-Century Modernism available 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 exactly what Mid-Century Modern furniture was, chances are you’ve seen (and admired!) an Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair.

These distinct fiberglass chairs were designed for the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design, which was held by the Museum of Modern Art in 1948. The competition’s goal was to promote low-cost furniture designs in the post-war period.

This low-cost yet high-style chair first appeared on the market in 1950 and was immediately embraced by consumers. It was the first single-piece plastic chair in history that wasn’t upholstered.

This Mid-Century Modern furniture piece is also hands-down the design that best encompasses the ideals of its designers, Charles and Ray Eames. Charles and Ray were all about “Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least.”

The iconic Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair is available in many different colors and bases.

Want to make your patio pop? Use a couple of Eames chairs in bright hues (maybe Terra Cotta or Blood Orange). Add a couple more in more muted shades (Parchment or Dark Seafoam) to jazz up your dining room.

Go with your gut because you really can’t go wrong with these chairs. Eames has got your back.

Womb Chair

Finnish designer Eero Saarinen created the Womb Chair in 1946 when, legend has it, 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 one. In fact, the Womb Chair is now considered one of the most recognizable pieces of Mid-Century Modern furniture 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

Can we just saw that Mid-Century Modern Teak Credenzas and Sideboards are absolutely delicious?

The gorgeous wood and simple yet striking lines of the design make them timeless favorites. Whether set on pencil legs or square peg legs, a teak credenza evokes the Mid-Century Modern mood. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Mid-century furniture valuable?

Mid-century furniture can be quite valuable, especially if it is an authentic piece from a well-known designer. The value of mid-century furniture has increased significantly in recent years due to its popularity and the limited supply of original pieces.

Is Mid-century modern still in style?

Yes, Mid-century modern style is still very much in vogue. Its clean lines, minimalist aesthetic, and functional design continue to appeal to many people and interior designers alike.

Is there a difference between Mid-century and Mid-century modern furniture?

While the terms "Mid-century" and "Mid-century modern" are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. Mid-century refers to the time period, while Mid-century modern specifically refers to the design style that emerged during that era.

What years are considered mid-century modern furniture?

Mid-century modern furniture generally refers to pieces designed and manufactured between the mid-1930s and mid-1960s. The style reached its peak of popularity in the post-World War II years, particularly during the 1950s and early 1960s.

What is Mid-century modern furniture?

Mid-century modern furniture is characterized by its clean lines, organic curves, and minimalist design. It often features the use of natural materials like wood, as well as innovative materials such as plastic, fiberglass, and metal.

Why is Mid-century modern furniture so popular?

Mid-century modern furniture has remained popular due to its timeless design, functionality, and versatility. The style's clean lines and minimalist aesthetic complement a wide range of interior design styles, making it adaptable to many different tastes and preferences.

Who were the most famous Mid-century modern furniture designers?

Some of the most renowned Mid-century modern furniture designers include Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, and Hans Wegner. These designers created iconic pieces that have become synonymous with the Mid-century modern style.