Last week, we talked about how mid-century modern has quickly become one of the most popular trends in architectural, interior, product and graphic design. But first, what is mid-century modern design? What are the mid century modern colors that define the era? How does one style mid-century modern furniture? And what does mid-century modern furniture even look like? If you're asking these questions, you're on the right track to being an enthusiast! Here are 5 things you should know about mid-century modern design.
Photo credit: Mid-century modern architecture via Fast Co. Design
Mid-century design was born in the post-war period in the light of modern innovation. After WWII, many European designers brought earlier movements include the famous Bauhaus movement to Amercia, bringing, too, advancements in technology and design. Roughly spanning the period between 1933 and 1965, mid-century modern design focuses on improving daily life through making simple things beautiful. With a functional twist, this is what makes mid-century modern design, particularly furniture, so sought-after. As the style is largely geared towards redesigning and reimagining the future landscape of everyday life, mid-century design focuses on elements such as furniture, lighting and home wares. The period is recognized as one of the most significant design movements taking into consideration influence of industrial design and Scandinavian design.
Why it'll never die
A period spurred by economic reform and great innovation, mid-century modern design is regarded as ubiquitous, timeless and constantly inspiring. In fact, many of the modern designs we see in furniture design today are the product of a classic mid-century modern design with just a few tweaks. The styles use of clean lines and minimal forms have created a basis for modern furniture that is not likely to disappear anytime soon.
Photo credit: Charles Eames via Vitra
Mid-century design is largely about juxtaposition and creating balanced but obvious contrast. In this, it's also about the exploration of innovative materials, blending the traditional and non-traditional. Steam-bent wood, molded plastic, and fiberglass are a few of the most interesting examples, which is not unusual to be used all together in the same piece of mid-century modern furniture. Functionality is also a major component in mid-century modern design, each table or chair serving both beauty and purpose in order to exist. When it comes to color, mid-century modern design remains inherently minimalist but is known also for it's bold pops of statement color used, once again, in balance and obvious contrast. Read this style guide for more about mid-century modern style.
Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Hans Wegner are just a few of the major mid-century modern designers aka icons of the mid-century modern era. Read more in our last article to find out the top 10 mid-century modern furniture designers you need to know.
How to buy and style
Start minimalist, choose only a few statement pieces, and then build the rest of your modern home around that. Keep in mind that it's all about balanced contrast (in color, texure and overall design) and everything should consider both beauty and functionality to serve its ultimate purpose. Vintage pieces will add an authentic feeling, while quality mid-century reproductions can be added to the home at a fraction of the cost. If you're looking for more style advice, check out our designer look books for inspiration.