There are very few design movements that have the staying power of mid century modern design. Starting in the 1950s and 1960s this powerhouse of a movement has evolved over many decades and shows no signs of slowing down. Today many of us covet the original vintage pieces of furniture by pioneering designers such as Eames and Arne Jacobsen, whilst others replicate the look with modern takes on this classic style of design. Perhaps we are all drawn to mid century modern furniture because of the clean simple lines, statement forms and paired down elegance that make it so easy to incorporate into modern day living. Whatever the reason, mid century modern style is here to stay.
Need some inspiration on how to achieve the look? No problem. We take a look at some of the fantastic ways designers have merged mid century modern furniture into beautiful modern spaces and shed light on how to accomplish the look in your own home.
1. Rustic Modernity
The dreamy Hudson River house redesigned by GRT Architects is a contemporary rustic haven. The use of natural materials like wood and terracotta tiles reinforce the humble, honest character of the home and create warmth whilst staying mindful of the mid century aesthetic. The floating wooden shelves in the library mimic the exposed natural beams that travel the length of the room. Whilst the openness of the shelves and the storage below create space and light, typical of the mid century movement - it also provides a clever zone to beautifully display a curated collections of books, artwork and meaningful trinkets.
The canny choice of chair with it’s trendy dark grey pads and wooden body create an interesting juxtaposition and make it a statement piece within the room. The colour of the chair is then cleverly followed through into the colours of the abstract rug to tie the space neatly together.
2. Scandi Cool
This eclectic dining room is a wonderful marriage between Scandi chic and mid century modern design. The dining area is often the hub of a house and here the white walls provide centre stage for the dark walnut furniture, including the original floating sideboard. The mix of vintage Hans J Wegner, Cherner and Arne Jacobsen chairs offer added contemporary interest to the space and by sticking to the same wood it helps to create a cohesive look amongst the mismatched chairs. The Scandi cool look is topped off by the addition of a classic mid century atomic starburst chandelier.
Whilst the dining furniture is grounded by a large modern rug that adds pops of ochre yellow into an otherwise muted interior – this is an easy way of subtly introducing a colour into a space without it becoming the main feature.
3. Moody Contrast
Owning a period property doesn’t automatically mean that you have stay true to that era when it comes to selecting furniture. Sometimes mixing up eras can offer an unexpected contrast and often gives a space a contemporary edge. This gorgeous lounge does just that. With its traditional high ceilings, cornice mouldings and wall paneling drastically contrasted by the low slung seating, delicately turned table legs and mid-century proportions, it helps to give the illusion of space. That illusion is continued by the clever use of dark grey paint on the walls and ceilings creating a moody snug that is nicely pulled together by the classic modernist starburst chandelier.
Explore more of this home here:Industrial Vibe #16
4. Industrial Grandeur
Converted factory apartments can be some of the coolest properties on the market – but it is sometimes a challenge finding the balance between the cool industrial elements and the homely aspects that so many of us crave. This landmarked SoHo building is a brilliant example of how to incorporate mid century furniture into a grand industrial home. The streamlined sofas sit proudly in the room whilst the warm walnut tones and the curves of the overlapping coffee tables add a softness to the space. The bright white walls create an air of grandeur and give the classic mid century furniture room to shine – all whilst adding a much needed contrast in colour.
Explore more of this home here:Explore A Striking Open-Plan Loft in New York City's SoHo
5. Kitsch Vibes
You would be forgiven for thinking that you had walked onto the set of Mad Men in this retro dining room. Instead you are looking at a cleverly kitsch take on mid-century style within an end-of-terrace Georgian house in east London. Everything from the Arne Vodder colour block sideboard to the delicate walnut table and chairs has been carefully planned out to create this mid-century fusion. 1970s german fat lava pottery sits below the ornate wall sconces creating a mash-up of modernist silhouettes alongside elaborate curiosities. Using mid century modern furniture in this quirky setting creates a fun and vibrant contemporary feel to the space - a stark contrast to the otherwise crisp lines and serious shapes of mid century design.
Explore more of this home here:Urban Glamour #16
Your Mid-Century Modern furniture questions answered
What wood is used for mid century modern furniture?
Quality materials and construction was a key component of mid century modern design, so it comes as no surprise that the furniture was made from high-quality, durable woods. Favourites of the movement include oak, teak, rosewood, walnut, beech and elm.
Why is mid century modern furniture so popular?
There are a myriad of reasons that could be attributed to the popularity of mid century modern furniture. One reason is that its practical designs and pleasing aesthetic make it a perfect fit for today’s contemporary and eclectic home interiors - not to mention, the style is ideal for more compact living spaces. The timeless shapes and sleek curves are easy to incorporate into modern living and the constant upgrading of materials keep it up to date with contemporary needs.
What period is mid century modern furniture from?
There is some disagreement when it comes to defining the start of the mid century modern movement however the general consensus is that it was at its peak during the 1950s and 1960s.
Who were the most famous mid century modern furniture designers?
For those just beginning to dip your toes into the pool of mid century modern furniture, there are a few key designers of the era that you just have to know. Mid century modern can’t be discussed without mentioning Eames, which has become a synonymous name with the movement - sometimes referred to as the ‘Eames-era’. Other important designers of the time include Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer and Arne Jacobsen.