“Mid-century modern” — it’s a term that’s been popping up all over the place in the design world for the past few years, to the point where it’s spilling over into everyday conversations in the rest of the world as well. What does it mean?
Well, just what it sounds like: a revisiting of the ultra-modern styles that were popular in the mid-20th century. Think Mad Men. Think Pan Am. Think mod, clean 1950s and ’60s lines, off-bold colors and streamlined curves. Think Don Draper’s office. That’s mid-century modern.
One of the forefathers of the design movement was actually a duo: the married couple, Charles and Ray Eames, who met in — of all places — design school. Ã‚Â Their collections of chairs like the one below set the mid-century modern era ablaze with flight-inspired pieces with aerodynamic appeal, like the Egg chair from Arne Jacobsen, above.
Along with Jacobsen, an array of highly gifted Danish designers rose to prominence around the same time and are still influencing the look of homes, offices and commercial spaces throughout the world today.
Another iconic piece of the mid-century modern trend — both rounds of it — is the wire basket side chair from Bertoia, the US Designer of the Year in 1955 whose work is still revered well into the 21st century:
And last but not least, there’s the Wegner wishbone chair. Carl Hansen and Son reintroduced the 1949 classic in 2010 with a citrus-hued color palette to complement its initial line; more than 60 years later, the original design still holds up.
While these pieces are certainly something to strive for, their price tags are as well. But the news for those of us not quite in that tax bracket is actually rather positive: the urge for more designs like these is so strong throughout the marketplace that many modern designers are taking their cues from the movement and releasing pieces at much more accessible rates.
An afternoon at the vintage store or a stop into the closest Target are both sure to turn up a piece or two worth taking home for the long haul.