Mid Century Modern Interior Design 101

mid century modern

The New Trend of Mid-century Modern Interior Design


If you’ve been following the developments in interior design and decoration for a while, you may have noticed the growing popularity of mid century furniture.

It is easy enough to notice the shift towards more traditional furniture of decades past; you only have to see a couple of TV shows or leaf through a few interior decorating magazines to realize that mid century furniture is coming back in a big way. Furthermore, a search of the product lines of practically any online furniture retailer’s site will likely call up several examples of “mid century modern furniture”, with varying degrees of authenticity.


modern mid century furniture


The term “mid century modern” is itself an ambiguous one, and it can be quite difficult to pin down with any degree of certainty. Most examples of mid century modern furniture seem to be based on pieces from the early 1930s to the mid 1960s, although many purists would define the crucial period as the late 1940s to the late 1950s. With many types of mid century furniture, influences from just after World War I, and even the Industrial Revolution are also referenced.


mid century furniture


The roots of the current trend toward mid century modern furniture design can be traced to the early- to mid-1980s, when such designs began to take over the distinctive 1960s and 1970s inspired flavors of the previous years. It was then that the current vintage midcentury designs began to take hold, and its growth in popularity would continue on until the present. By the mid 1990s, there was already a definitive boom in mid century modern furniture design, with collectors driving up the prices of original pieces all over the world.


knoll furniture


Although most of the original manufacturers had closed up shop by the 1990s, a number of new companies rose up to fill the demand. Manufacturers such as Knoll began introducing a variety of new mid century modern furniture, many of which combine traditional design aesthetics with modern day features and manufacturing processes.


mid century modern interior design


Still other companies focused on reissuing many well-loved classic designs from back in the day, offering shoppers numerous new options in retro-modern furniture. Along with many low end, mass-produced “vintage” pieces, these pieces of furniture cemented the current trend toward mid century furniture design.


mid century furniture modern


As befitting the widespread global popularity of the trend, many industry analysts and observers have taken notice. Such high profile magazines as Dwell and Wallpaper were instrumental in bringing the mid century design ethos to the public’s consciousness, and even House Beautiful – which had focused primarily on traditional designs throughout much of its existence–got in on the action. Time magazine and the New York Times also prominently featured mid century furniture in their design-oriented features. With TV, cinema, and even cultural establishments bitten by the mid century furniture bug, it was clear that what started out as a retro trend was becoming much more than that.

Why the newfound love for mid century modern furniture design?

Why has it become such an enduring aspect of interior design, and indeed, of 21st century living?


modern mid century interior design


At the heart of the matter is the realization that mid century furniture is actually excellently designed. With its clean lines and timeless appearance, mid century furniture fits in very well with most modern-day interior designs. Whether in the home or in the workplace, mid century furniture add a much needed sense of classic elegance that is never dated or out of place. If you are looking for furniture that lets you impart your own unique style while still retaining an element of freshness and traditional elegance, mid century furniture is your best bet.


modern mid century furniture design


Familiarity likely plays a significant role in the resurgence of the popularity of mid century furniture as well. Many of those who grew up with such pieces in their homes and have fond memories of them are of the age when they could outfit their own homes with any style of furniture they want. And more often than not, these pieces are of the mid century furniture variety, providing them with a direct emotional connection to their childhoods.


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Even without the demand from the Baby Boomer market, the trend toward mid century furniture would likely be just as prevalent due to the tastes of Generation X’ers and millenials, many of whom just seem to naturally gravitate toward such designs even without a personal reference point. As testament to the universal appeal of mid century furniture, it seems that even younger designers and consumers are drawn to mid century furniture even without having experienced growing up with them themselves.


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And then there are the parallels that mid century furniture has with contemporary art. Many pieces of furniture from the period seem to have been designed with influence from the then burgeoning modern art movement, the aesthetics of which still remain popular to this very day. By investing in mid century furniture, homeowners are able to enjoy some of the tamer and more conservative aspects of contemporary art without the jarring aesthetics that would interfere with the rest of their home design.

Regardless of the reasons for the trend, mid century modern furniture is by all indications here to stay. It is safe to say that in the next several years, mid century furniture will continue to be a prominent fixture in modern day design.

Author: Eric Pangburn

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