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Mid-Century Modern Style: 5 Things Every DIYer Should Know This design style has been around since the early 20th century, but has seen a resurgence in recent years.
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Contemporary interior design is not dominated by unique looks, but one style that has been prevalent for nearly 100 years is mid-century modern. Characterized by clean lines, organic shapes, minimal decoration and high functionality, the Mid-Century Modern (MCM) style first became popular in the 1950s, but has become desirable again in the 21st century. Mid-century modern design never goes out of style, but its resurgence in popularity can be explained by its timeless yet modern aesthetic.
The Basics Of Mid Century Modern Design
Let’s define mid-century modern design, look at the history of the movement, outline some iconic mid-century modern furniture, and explore the best ways to incorporate the style into your own home interior.
Mid-century modern is a style of architectural, interior, product and graphic design that reflects design developments that occurred in the early and mid-20th century.
The most prominent feature of mid-century modern design is the emphasis on function. While the old style focused on decoration and decorative embellishments, this new style encourages clean lines and minimal clutter for a more efficient living space. To illustrate this point, mid-century modern homes typically have open floor plans and include lots of natural light.
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Over the years, mid-century modern design has been used in everything from homes to office buildings and is reflected in building styles, furniture design, art and more.
The term “midcentury modern” has become shorthand for a design style popularized in America in the 1950s, but the style’s history goes back much further. The style was born in an important historical period. The first half of the 20th century was marked by two world wars and major social and economic changes. In the United States, people are moving to urban areas and taking advantage of new technologies. The desire for increased simplicity and efficiency in the post-war era shaped this design style.
Mid-century modern design grew out of the International and Bauhaus movements in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, which focused on bringing quality design to ordinary people through mass production. Famous architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, and Walter Gropius immigrated to the United States after World War II and brought these ideas to North American design.
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This trend is reflected in home design, which is moving away from ornate Victorian styles towards a simple aesthetic that focuses on function over form. Mid-century modern pieces also incorporate new materials such as aluminum, steel, vinyl and plywood, often produced using mass production techniques that allow manufacturers to produce furniture at lower prices than ever before.
Now that you know more about the history of mid-century modern, let’s talk about interior design. Whether you’re designing a new home or just updating a few rooms in your current room, this style can be a great way to give your space a fresh yet classic look. These tips will guide you in creating your own mid-century inspired space:
When looking for mid-century modern furniture, the easiest and most affordable option is vintage shopping. Find authentic items at flea markets or online stores like Chairish and Etsy. You can also find quality retro furniture at stores like West Elm, CB2 and Target. Even with a name rooted in a very specific era, mid-century modern is one of the most sought after…
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Zoe Kubb Area Rug by Gan Rugs, Random II Pendant by Moooi, Baltic Leather Chair by Gus Modern, Eames Molded Plastic Bench by Herman Miller,
Even with a name rooted in a very specific era, mid-century modern is one of the most sought-after design styles that transcends its time period. Constantly revived and reinterpreted, MCM has achieved an iconic status that can still be found in interiors today, with applications ranging from pristine mid-century residences to contemporary environments with a retro feel.
With the end of World War II, global resources were limited. Fortunately, new technology has made production easier and more innovative. In Europe, the International and Bauhaus styles took over, stripping away the flamboyance of earlier days to reveal the basics. In Brazil, brise soleils solar shading technology opens buildings to nature. Everywhere, function is as important as form. And in architecture—from Finland to Florida—building structures have been proudly opened in public, revealing their core.
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Many credit Ludwig Mies van de Rohe’s German Pavilion, built for the 1929 International Expo in Barcelona,with initiating minimalist design. In the 1950s, we had his Seagram Building on Park Avenue and the “less is more” attitude that still defines midcentury modernism today.
Emerging between the 1930s (with many basic principles originating in Europe) and the 1960s, mid-century modern has its own distinct style that manages to encompass two design sensibilities at once. Much of the popular mid-century modern furniture, lighting, and decor (from names like Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, and George Nelson) focuses on unique forms, material innovation, and versatile modern living.
Other architects followed—Koenig, Eichler, etc.—but what really captured the American imagination were the designs used to fill these airy confined spaces. The cornerstones of mid-century modern product design are fluid movement, flawless functionality, sculptural form and accessibility. These are pieces designed to appeal to as many people as possible and at a more affordable price that they can actually afford.
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Thanks to material and technological advances, the production of this design has become a reality. Tubular steel allows the seat solution to bend and bend without breaking. The use of natural materials such as leather is typical. Plastic isn’t natural, but its innovation is central to the mid-century ideal of mobility and accessibility.
With such a range, there are many ways to infuse your home with this famous style without feeling overdone. Here are popular ways to bring great retro style to your space.
Eames Chair with Ottoman, Eames Pressed Plywood Chair with Wooden Legs, Eames Walnut Stool by Charles & Ray Eames for Herman Miller, Ball Foam Pendant by George Nelson for Nelson Foam Lamp,
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Plywood furniture as a mid-century modern staple is just one of the results of experimentation with materials in the service of the “new” modern life. The strength and durability of bent plywood, an organic material on tubular steel, championed by many designers, especially Charles and Ray Eames, has produced a variety of innovative forms that are organic, beautiful to look at and shaped to comfortably support the human body. . For example, the Noguchi table by Isamu Noguchi combines wood and similar curved glass panels to create a clearly designed piece that looks like it was plucked straight from nature.
Mid-century modern design has a long list of iconic chairs, so if you’re referencing mid-century style in your home, choosing a classic chair is the way to go. As iconic as the plywood dining table or lounge chair, Scandinavian design is known for formal and informal seating for the modern home.
Outside the dining room, the armchair is the main focus at the moment. For the greater Bauhaus/International European style influence at MCM, the lounge shares influences from modern masterpieces such as the Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or the Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer. Placing such a living room piece in an elegant living room or a quiet corner instantly sends an informative mid-century message.
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Foam Ball Pendant, Cigar Foam Pendant, Cross Cross Foam Pendant by George Nelson for Nelson Foam Lamp. Swole Dining Table and Chip dining chairs from Blu Dot
Nelson™ Bubble® Lamps are perhaps some of the most iconic pieces to emerge from the mid-century design movement. Designed by George Nelson, this organic lantern is made of soft plastic that is sprayed and spun around a steel wire frame. Its shape offers a clean shape that can adapt to contemporary decor. The Artichoke PH pendant by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen is an iconic mid-century modern piece with gently curved panels arranged to resemble vegetables.
In addition to simple and organic shapes that have been reproduced over time, the starburst is another popular lighting design that came out of the atomic age part of the mid-century. Today, globes and stems have simplified the look of bulbs on display.
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With such a focus on form meeting function, respect for materials and innovative manufacturing, mid-century modern design seems at risk of becoming a bit of a joke. Fortunately, that desire was not lost on the iconic mid-century designer. Rugs, clocks, lamps and other mid-century home accessories capture the fun of the nuclear age with bright colors and graphic shapes.
Nelson looked to his childhood to create the Marshmallow Sofa and Ball Clock, while the Eames incorporated a real sense of play into their colorful Hang-It-All. Alexander Girard, king of mid-century modern textile design, also created other accents like wooden dolls and kid-friendly trays to add pop and joy to the colors.
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