Ask any designer — graphic, interior or any other subgenre — what the hottest thing of the moment is right now, and he or she will likely say “mid-century modernism.” For those of us outside of the discerning and often history-obsessed world of high-end design, the phrase might need a bit of translating.
Essentially, one need look no further than an episode of Mad Men for a taste of mid-century modern style. Broken down into simple terms, it’s the architectural style of the mid-20th century, which bled over into interior furnishings and decor throughout the 1950s and 60s and has enjoyed quite a resurgence in popularity in recent years.
Much of the period’s revival is seated, conveniently enough, in its chairs. The signature signs of the period are a balance of straight and curved lines; of style and functionality. The clean, sleek, inviting rounded edges of the most popular chairs of the day have never really gone out of style, and for good reason: they’re aesthetically pleasing from a scientific standpoint.
Perfectly symmetrical with bold but controlled bursts of color, this particular style is clean and classic. The entire Eames collection (shown partially above), as well as the Grand Prix and Egg chairs from Arne Jacobsen, are some of the most notable pieces of the period.
A precursor to the mid-century design movement was the Bauhaus era, named after a German school from which many design proteges emerged in the first half of the 1900s. The most famous piece from that period was the Barcelona chair from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, an unmistakable tufted leather chair that’s seen many knockoffs in the days since its creation.
Arguably, some of the Bauhaus balance and understated, accessible elegance made its way into the era that followed, and both periods now join one another in living rooms and offices the world over in the 21st century.
And that, dear readers, is your design primer for the day!