Mid-century modern design has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years. Architectural Digest reports that the years from 1933 through 1965 were when this movement was established as a significant influence in the creation of everything from architecture to furniture, art, and lighting.
This era celebrates designs that are both simple and practical. Prices and designs were strategically positioned so that the furniture and accessories were affordable and could be mass-produced for a hungry, post-war marketplace. The most notable mid-century designers are Charles Eames, Ray Eames, Harry Bertola, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Wassily, Arne Jacobsen, and Paul Evans.
Affordability Hacks for Buying Mid-Century Modern Pieces
The secret is out, and there is no disputing that mid-century modern is bigger than ever. That is both the good news and the bad news for shoppers. The popularity of this style means it is being sold everywhere. Big store chains are selling reproductions at affordable prices.
Finding the exact color you want or an original piece for a reasonable price can be trickier. Depending on your age and your family dynamic, you might want to offer to clean out your mother’s or grandmother’s attic to see what you can find. You might be surprised at the treasure that is collecting dust, lost, and unappreciated.
Estate sales and auctions are also an excellent way to find some interesting pieces. You will probably pay less for your finds if you go to estate sales run by the homeowner’s family instead of a company. Cutting out the middleman is always a good idea when you can.
Don’t forget to go to yard sales and to check out Craigslist. If you’re feeling lucky, you might want to visit your local Goodwill too. The deals you can find at thrift stores are amazing.
Be realistic. Don’t count on buying that perfect piece you’ve always wanted on the cheap with a twenty-dollar bill retrieved from your handbag. But if you have to put it on your platinum credit card, we won’t tell.
Mid-Century Modern Decor Elements
One of the most fundamental statements of this design style is that it celebrates the understated by featuring clean lines and focusing on practical elegance rather than elaborate and ornate flourishes. Often indistinguishable from what passes for retro or art deco, mid-century modern furniture and art designs leverage bright and bold patterns to complement the simple lines that define this era’s most recognizable trends.
Organic elements and geometric patterns are also a hallmark of mid-century modern furniture, accessories, and art. Materials from nature, such as leather, wood, and metal, are liberally used to produce distinctive designs unique to this period.
In a tribute to practicality, furniture was created that could be used for multiple purposes to conserve space. It is common to see popular pieces that can be stacked or folded.
During this design movement, materials once reserved for industrial use or commercial purposes found their way into home furnishings for the first time. Fiberglass and plexiglass arrived on the scene as preferred materials. Fiberglass was molded into interesting shapes. The idea of curving the material to fit the body became a recurring theme for chairs.
While using leather in furniture designs was not unheard of before mid-century modern designers arrived, the use of leather straps offered a new twist. Marcel Breuer’s famous Wassily chair still attracts a lot of attention even today as a go-go investment for collectors who buy mid-century modern collectibles. This chair is made with leather straps attached to a steel frame.
Certain colors are associated with this era. In the 1950s, bright hues were commonly embraced, changing eventually to earthy tones a decade later during the 1960s. Pale pink is another favorite option by mid-century modern designers.
There is a recognizable aesthetic inherent in all mid-century modern design, whether you’re shopping for a funky egg chair or a stylish Barcelona chair to add to an otherwise traditional room for a splash of modern cool. Metal art, plastic chairs, and sleek furniture that mimics the clean lines of Scandanavian designs are prime examples of the popular, mid-century modern design triumphs.
Don’t be left out. Let the treasure hunting begin.
This is a collaborative post. All views and text are my own.