Learning About Mid-Century Modern Design


Mid-Centruy Modern Chair and Ottoman Optimism ruled in postwar America. Young soldiers rushed home to marry their sweethearts and start families. To accommodate the baby boom, neighborhoods popped up across the United States. Some of these homes had the modern look featuring wood, glass, stone and an open plan. Mid-Century Modern was dubbed the "West Coast" look because it originated in California and seemed natural and organic.

These new houses needed furniture, and the pieces that were produced during the era reflect that happy mood. Materials that had helped during the war effort – rubber, plywood, epoxy, fiberglass – were incorporated into furniture design. Synthetic materials also exploded due to scientific advancements. Nylon, laminate, PV, plastic, melamine, plywood and vinyl were modern and hugely popular. An added bonus -- all of these materials were affordable.

Many of the top designers of the movement had the same overarching goal – they wanted to provide good design to the masses. Some of the most popular designers were Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Isamu Noguchi. At the time, the spare style had its critics, but beginning in the early '80s, its timeless appeal became highly coveted among collectors. The mid-century craze continues to this day.

Fortunately, if you can't get your hands on an original mid-century piece, you can buy reproductions straight from the original sources. The two biggest manufacturers of mid-century modern furnishings -- Herman Miller and The Knoll Company -- are still in production today!

To see more mid-century pieces then and now, follow along on our mid-century board on Pinterest.