The Case Guide to Buying Mid-Century Modern Furniture
By Nicky Rampley-Clarke
When browsing and buying furniture, you often hear ‘Mid-Century Modern’ referenced as an aesthetic, but what does it actually mean? It’s OK: not everyone is rooted in the world of design like us and knows the influences that continue to shape even the most contemporary homes of today. As usual, we’re here to help you understand what Mid-Century Modern is, why it continues to inspire how we decorate in 2023, and how to successfully integrate the historic style into your home.
So, what is Mid-Century Modern?
In short, Mid-Century Modern refers to the popular furnishings of the mid-20th century when simple, multi-functional, wooden pieces featuring clean lines were favoured in the post-war period. Representing a fresh start, ornate details were out, and straightforward designs were in, reflecting a desire for a thoroughly modern way of living.
Usually, pieces belonging to this category are unashamedly retro in appearance – as traditional trumped trendy – with much of it made from teak selected for its durability and richness. Think desks, storage units and tables. Wood, metal and glass were also common, sometimes juxtaposed to create a purposeful tension, with undulating curves a key characteristic. The Eames chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1956 and produced by Vitra, is such an example.
Lastly, colour was finally used in a way that people hadn’t previously seen, predominantly as a bold accent to make a piece really pop in a space. Tying everything together were designs that made the use of technological innovation and could be mass-produced for the modern-day family.
Why is Mid-Century Modern having a moment right now?
Now, Mid-Century Modern furniture is more popular than ever, especially as we continue to champion purposeful design. With throwaway culture increasingly a thing of the past – in fact, it’s rightfully frowned-upon – homeowners are investing in quality pieces with enduring appeal or seeking out design classics that have stood the test of time. Because of such, Mid-Century Modern style is firmly back in-vogue, although some may argue it never really went out of fashion.
Finally, how can you integrate Mid-Century modern into your scheme?
The key to furnishing with Mid-Century style in 2023 is mixing and matching with pieces from other periods. After all, a lot has moved on from the ‘50s so you don’t want your home to look like a museum, while the matchy-matchy look is increasingly passé. Now, it’s all about eclectic, with interiors that knowingly reference and bring out the best of different eras.
Next, select pieces that allow the signature aesthetics of Mid-Century Modern furniture to shine, such as those razor-sharp lines, swooping curves and rich, glossy teak.
And, finally, remember that Mid-Century Modern was born from a need for function, so ensure the pieces you select work for you and your family. It might be that a Mid-Century Modern sofa makes for a better statement piece that stands alone in a more formal living room while a contemporary modular sofa provides flexibility and slouchy comfort in a TV room, for example.