One of the defining features of mid-Century furniture is the wooden tapered legs that were so common for the furniture designs of their time. However, this style dates back much further… this has been a practice of furniture makers since ancient times. In modern times, the tapered leg detail often evokes the memory of furniture from the 1950s and 60s due to the popularity of its use during this important period of furniture design.
We believe that it was furniture designer Paul McCobb who used the tapered leg detail so early on in the middle of last century, which went on to become some of the best-selling products of the 1950s, helping to define the style for other designers to use later on.
So, what does a tapered leg mean exactly? Tapering is a gradual thinning in thickness as legs get closer to the floor, often round in shape which creates a very elegant, yet strong design that can support the furniture whilst keeping the view clear underneath the furniture.
This tapered legs technique was used more often as a way to visually reduce the impact that furniture has on a room, lifting the sofa, or desk, or sideboard off the ground so that the space was not defined as clearly by the objects in the room, but by as much floor space could be seen. This was one of the reasons it was a popular technique which quickly turned into the style most associated with this era in design.
Today, the technique is being used in furniture reminiscent of the mid-Century designs by people such as Robin Day, Charles & Ray Eames or Eero Saarinen. The tapered leg shape creates an elegant, almost feminine style which is perfectly appropriate for today’s homes which often are lacking in space and demand less ‘heavy’ pieces of furniture.
Our Celine desk by designer Nazanin Kamali uses this technique with gently tapering conical legs which gives this piece a very dainty aesthetic. Combined with its small proportions and slim hidden drawer this desk is perfect for those tight on space.
“Look more closely at its form: a series of hard rectangles on top, with curved, slanting legs below. Nazanin Kamali has crafted a paean to the mid-century modern aesthetic, a desk that would be as at home in a Frank Lloyd Wright house as in a modern condo.” Gear Patrol
Our Valentine bed by designer Matthew Hilton has a signature design feature of a gentle tapered leg that points purposefully outwards. This gives the range a unity and also lends visual balance to each piece.
Both very elegant designs and very practical, the tapered legs detail is part of our design language tipping our hat to designs from the mid-Century that we are all so familiar with.