The mid-century modern revival has been going strong now for the last few years and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down. I would argue that this design and architecture movement never really went out of style at all, as some iconic pieces never went out of production and belong in the “timeless” category of design. Mid-century refers to a style that became prevalent after WWII and carried through to the late 1960’s.
It signified a break from the dark, heavy, traditional furniture of the past and a move to lighter, brighter and more simple design style. It was also called the “Atomic Age” by designers of the time because of the exuberant use of futuristic new materials such as molded plastic and plywood, teak, chrome, leucite and glass table tops. It was clean, simple and understated and favoured smooth or geometric lines and the use of mixed materials. It also favoured bright pops of colour that showcased the optimism of the Post War period.
Although sleek and modern, the style can quickly dominate and monopolize a room scape and make your space seem dated. So, how do you incorporate mid – century modern into you design scheme without your home looking like the set of “Mad Men” or “The Brady Bunch”? First, start by identifying the key characteristics of the furniture of the time, the Boomerang or Eiffel base for frames, the conical or peg leg, the Tulip base for tables and chairs, molded plastic or leucite seats, long low cabinets and glass tables. This is definitely a “form follows function” style.
The easiest way to pair this style with an existing design scheme is through accents pieces that will provide the most impact with the least amount of commitment. A teak or acacia sideboard with a sleek profile, glass front and pegs legs would be a beautiful addition to any dining room. Or, try pairing Eames Eiffel style dining chairs with a brightly coloured plastic seat with a more traditional table. In the living room, a Noguchi glass top coffee table with teak base or an Eileen Grey glass and chrome side table provide a subtle reference to the mid-century style without dominating the room. If you want a pop of colour, try an Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair in a highly saturated, bright hue.
If you are a devotee of the style and want to go mid – century all the way, the living room is the perfect place to showcase this style. Start by bringing in a sofa that sits on a floating frame, such as the “Myer” by Stylus, in either a bright colour or a rich texture. Pair it with two Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chairs in a yummy leather and a teak and glass coffee and side table set. Place a shag rug in a creamy neutral underfoot and you have yourself a beautiful, comfortable space that will stand the test of time.
The most important rule for decorating with mid – century style in mind is to have fun with it. The style is clean, light, simple and undeniably playful.