What is mid-century modern?
Mid-century modern furniture came to the forefront of the design world going beyond its established borders. It is a new trend that takes its roots in the middle of the last century. We see again oblivion sofas on brass legs, wallpapers with contrasty prints and unholstered furniture with wooden armrests.
In this article, we are going to talk about the history and main characteristics of mid-century modern style and its role in inspiring & influencing contemporary modern furniture makers of the 21st century.
What is mid-century modern style?
You don't need to be an expert in history to know that the post-war period affected not only the political and economic aspects of peoples' lives but also largely influenced artists. The masters of that time were connected by a common humanistic philosophy and a desire to simplify and improve the lives of middle-class people. In fact, the mid-century was the first style that responded to social needs and thus emerged as a reflection of the new world's issues.
The mid-century modern style of the 1950-1960s focused on the real need of people and brought forward the idea that the furniture has to be functional. The aim was to create comfortable and convenient conditions for peaceful human life.
World War pushed industries all over the world to improve technological development. As a result of these changes, the interior design world took a new direction. The big task was to reduce the cost of production. Thus the colors and textures used in interiors have greatly changed and expensive wooden materials were replaced with non-ferrous metals. The non-functional decor was minimized, while the furniture itself became the focal point in the interior.
New trends in architecture came to the concept of open space. Walls were eliminated, thus interior designers came to the concept of zoning and creating different functions within one open space.
What are mid-century modern distinct characteristics?
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Increasing attention was given to paper wallpaper, which was convenient due to its low price and ease of installation at the same time has high decorative qualities. Mid-century modern design is hard to imagine without accent wallpapers, against the plastic lamps and furniture made out of bent plywood.
Designers and artists began to create drawings for wallpapers, releasing entire collections. The prints were very bright and contrasting: geometric patterns, or floral motifs, or ironic stylizations created under the influence of pop art. We can see similar patterns of rugs and other textiles as well.
In addition to wallpaper and fabrics with plant motifs, interiors often emphasized large indoor plants. Palm trees and monsteras, fig trees and cactuses in urban apartments have become that natural component, without which mid-century designers simply could not exist.
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Particular attention was paid to layering lighting. An alternative to standard chandeliers various combinations of new ceiling, wall and floor lamps were widely used in interior design. New electrical systems and production technologies have turned luminaires into futuristic abstract sculptures specific to mid-century interiors.
Mid-century modern furniture
Especially in furniture design, the progress felt so sharply. The tremendous growth of new materials and technologies open up new opportunities for furniture designers and set new challenges. All this affected the shapes of furniture and interior items.
Furniture forms were determined primarily by function and material, and not by classical stereotypes. The comfort and convenience of a person were put at the forefront. Rigid rectilinear forms of early modernism were replaced by soft and curvilinear volumes. Most objects of that time were characterized by certain ease and grace. Scandinavian simplicity and organicity came into fashion.
Furniture pieces created during mid-century modern remain modern to this day. Therefore, the timeless masterpieces of Arne Jacobsen, Joe Ponti, Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Hans Wegner, and others are still being produced and are successfully integrated into completely different interiors.
Mid-century modern in contemporary interior design
Even today the same first ever manufacturers of iconic mid-century modern pieces create original works of the mid-century designers. However, today due to even further progress in optimizing production processes and logistics, many new brands are creating completely new furniture designs that are inspired by mid-century modern original works. Those products are created from high-quality materials and can become an excellent alternative to vintage objects for more affordable prices.
Many contemporary designers of the 21st century are inspired by mid-century modern's aesthetic and implement it into a contemporary interior that conveys the same characteristics and aesthetic of the 1950s.
Mid-century modern has always aimed to bring functionality and style to the average home by making furniture affordable. Many modernists of the 1950-1960s revolutionized the way furniture and architecture looks and were convinced to create a new era in interior design and architecture. Iconic furniture pieces in mid-century modern are still produced following the same techniques and materials. Moreover, in the 21st-century mid-century modern continues to inspire new furniture designers that create pieces inspired by the aesthetics of the 50s. In this article, we've talked about mid-century modern main characteristics and history. To find out more please read more about mid-century modern style in White on White blog.