Mid-Century Modern Design

By Oliver Burns

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December 15, 2016|Trends

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  • id-Century Modern style refers to a design movement which spanned two and a half decades, from the mid 1940s-1970s. Timeless in feel, this style is celebrated for its minimalist aesthetic, accents of vibrant colour and contemporary patterns. A response to the new-found optimism of post-war America, Mid-Century style gained popularity as the demand for lightweight, simple and innovative designs grew. This contemporary style has proved to have enduring appeal, with iconic pieces being just as highly sought after as in their hey-day. The combination of intelligent design, excellent craftsmanship and unexpected design details has ensured Mid-Century Modern remains timeless.
Image via Pinterest

One of the distinctive features of Mid-Century design is it’s bold and fearless approach to colour. Tastemakers of the day such as David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock where famed for their vibrant use of colour in their artworks, which in turn is translated through to interior design. Beginning with a neutral colour palette to provide a blank canvas, accents of colour are introduced by way of furniture and accessories. Shades of mustard yellow, avocado green and orange feature heavily in Mid-Century design, and today offer a nostalgic nod to retro interiors.

Image via Jelaba

Alongside colour, another key element of this movement is the unexpected combination of materials. Synthetic materials such as plywood, fibreglass and plastic laminate where expertly moulded to create innovative and unique designs such as Verner Panton’s eponymous chair. An icon of 20th century design, the ergonomic form of this piece paved the way for design which was both practical and stylish. Natural and man-made materials often juxtapose in Mid-Century interiors to create a dramatic design statement, with woods such as teakwood and walnut offering a striking contrast to plastic and glass. These unexpected combinations lend an element of surprise, ensuring this type of design remains fresh and contemporary.

Image via Elle Decor

This penchant for contrasting materials and shapes extends to the lighting synonymous with the period. Statement pieces such as sputnik chandeliers with exposed bulbs and straight rods where inspired by satellites and supernovas, and epitomise the futuristic feel of the period. Pendants with geometric or curved forms in vivid hues also featured heavily, subtlety reflecting the shapes and colours which characterise Mid-Century style.

Image via Elle Decor

Clean silhouettes epitomise this period with low credenzas, arching floor lamps and heavy dressers elegantly perched on tapered legs reflecting the simplicity and minimalism characteristic of the time. Inspired by the organic shapes found in nature, Mid-Century forms are effortless and uncomplicated; the very reason these designs are as celebrated now as they were when they were first conceived.

Image via Architectural Digest

Mid-Century Modern design was ahead of its time for its pioneering approach to materials and finishes as well as its unexpected designs. The combination of playful colours, patterns and forms crafted into enduring pieces that have stood the test of time ensures Mid-Century Modern will remain a style classic.

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