The Mid Century Modern style of home decor and architectural design has made a bit of a comeback. From the popularity of Mid Century Modern office furniture to the renewed interest in vintage items, people are taking a new look at the style.
AnOther Magazineandnbsp;took a look at the history of the style of this style. The piece notes that the term “Mid Century Modern” did not even come into use until long after the style of the day had changed. In 1984, Cara Greenberg, a writer and art historian, came up with the phrase and was the title of her most famous book. Since then, the style has become iconic and considered to be an important movement. Functionality, simplicity and ease of use were the drivers of this kind of style. The phrase itself, “Mid Century Modern,” rolls off of the tongue. It evokes the look and the feel of the style itself.
Where did it all begin?
The Mid Century Modern style grew out of modernism. It peaked in the years starting in the 1940s and continued through the 1960s. Functionality, elegance and simplicity were the core tenants of the style. Mid Century Modern office furniture, for example, was all designed to work but to be elegant and simple at the same time. Le Corbusier and Bauhaus were early champions of the look. Le Corbusier’s dictum became “a house is a machine for living.”
One of the first and more memorable Mid Century Modern designs was the 1946 Platform Bench that was created by George Nelson. He developed the piece to be produced on a larger scale than furniture before it. When Mid Century Modern office furniture was manufactured it was never meant to be for one office but for many. For living room furniture and dining room furniture, the idea was to make it accessible by the average homeowner. Designers of the day believed that good design could be created to be affordable to all.
Ray and Charles Eames created beautiful and breezy California chairs. These have become the face of the design style. There was a motto connected to the style. It was, “Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least amount of money.”
What are the materials of the Mid Century Modern Design Style?
Designers looked for materials that were distinctive and sometimes artificial. They wanted the materials to speak for themselves and never, ever be made to mimic something that they were not. Metal, plywood, glass and vinyl were used for the very first time in a large scale way. Many pieces included limited numbers of colors and materials. Ornamentation was similarly limited.
Plastic or wire mesh chairs were some of the most iconic creations designed by the Eameses and manufactured by Herman Miller. They used more affordable materials and created a style that can be described as “mix and match.” They put the design decisions in the hands of the consumer who could select the color and the material of their chairs. These chairs that they had designed started popping up all over the country.
What was the style?
There are a few styles that fall under the umbrella “Mid Century Modern.” They include the machine, handcrafted and biomorphic.
The Bauhaus and the Streamline Moderne styles were the main driving forces behind the machine look. Pieces in this style include geometric styles that evoke the start of the space age. The Associate’s Ball Clock by George Nelson had the look like it had just flew into the present from the 21st century (or what people thought it would look like).
Organic, smooth and curved surfaces are from the bio-morphic style from that era. The shapes of some of the pieces were meant to look like boomerangs or kidneys. These pieces offered a stark, yet accessible, contrast to the look of the machine style. Many pieces incorporated shapes that were drawn from the human body.
The last style was called “handmade” but it was created to be manufactured on a mass scale was was ideal for Mid Century Modern office furniture. The style combined minimalism with functionality.
Mid Century Modern furniture and architecture has a quality that has really helped it stand the test of time.