A deep dive into mid-century modern interior design style- Here’s all you need to know

The mid-century modern design is widely loved by contemporary designers and is a perfect amalgamation of clean lines, gentle corners and a variety of materials.

fashion and style
 Min read
May 27, 2022

Mid-century modern interior design, as the name suggest took the world in its grip in the middle of the 20th century, roughly between 1945-1975.  The term ‘mid-century modern design’ was coined by Cara Greenberg in her book ‘Mid-century modern: Furniture of the 1950s, penned in 1983. The volume was an eye-popping success, and the phrase was quickly adopted to characterize architecture, furniture, and graphic design made from about 1933 to 1965.

The design is widely loved by contemporary designers and is a perfect amalgamation of clean lines, gentle corners and a variety of materials. In the world of design and décor, style patterns are cyclical, so in the first half of the 21st century, the mid-century modern style is being majorly revived.

The design trend varied geographically but largely designers focused on organic shapes and functionality. The designers in the US used technologies and materials coming out of World War II, embracing mass production and frequently used products like fibreglass, bent plywood, aluminium, steel, foam, and plastic laminates. Meanwhile, designers based in Europe were inspired by the Scandinavian style and designed furniture using natural products like wood and leather.

Where did the style originate?

The interior design is said to have originated in the US and had its base in the Bahaus style popularised in Germany. Following the exodus of popular and creative designers from the continent, especially post World War II, most of them migrated to the US. Here, the demand for new houses with a fresh outlook was cropping up. With new set-ups and more opportunities, designers experimented and developed modern, contemporary, minimalistic furniture for a massive number of urban homes. Meanwhile, the industrial revolution reached its zenith and new developments and research in the field led to the production and utilisation of a variety of materials, colours, textures and designs. The mid-century modern designs were not only applicable to furniture or architecture but also to the accessories and materials that were being used during the era.

Some of the famous designers from the era were Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller, George Nelson, Arne Jacobsen, Isamu Noguchi, Cara Greenberg and Eero Saarinen.

What are the characteristics of the design?

Muted tones, a combination of natural and manmade materials married with organic textures and clean lines, perfectly define a mid-century modern design.

  • Minimalist

Mid-century modern styles are always clutter-free and minimalist with a focus on large pieces of furniture as opposed to small ornamental pieces. The furniture in this style is often simple with sleek lines, primarily focusing on functionality. Chairs and tables will often consist of simple pieces of material held up by wooden or metal pin-style legs. A mid-century home will always have a vintage statement piece- like a coffee table or bookshelf, to add character to rooms.

  • Blending materials and aesthetics

The design perfectly blends the usage of manmade materials like vinyl, plastic, lucite, and fibreglass and natural materials like wood, glass, metal, and marble. The two things are often used together in mid-century furniture design. During this era designers and architects honed in on their populist message that design should not only be beautifully constructed it should be functional, efficient, and attainable.

Designers also used malleable metals to create statement pieces during this era. For example, they used bent plywood, fibreglass, foam, aluminium, steel, and plastic laminates to mould rounded contours and pedestals for chairs and tables.

  • Naturals hues with a pop of colours

Adding pop to the middle-class’s lives, designers played with colours. mid-century homes have earthy hues of the 1950s with a pop of colour in the accessories or furniture used. Designers focus on the idea of combining indoor and outdoor, so the colour palettes are rooted in nature- with earthy greens, bright fall oranges, yellows, muddy browns, sea blue-greens, teal and deep clay reds. Apart from colours, marble is also used extensively in these homes- from countertops to backsplashes.

  • Merging indoors and outdoors

The mid-century modern architecture emphasizes the fusion of manmade structure and nature and the same idea is incorporated into the interior style. The design incorporates plenty of indoor and outdoor plants, and so are window treatments that encourage a sense of continuity between indoor and outdoor. The indoor and outdoor decor will always remind the 1950s and 1960s era with sculptures and art that perfectly narrate stories from the mid-century. Usually, the accessories and decor items are in bright hues to add pop to the overall muted look.

The popularity of the design

Undoubtedly, the mid-century design celebrated functionality and minimalism, which is still a key factor in revamping homes of the 21st century. Designers across the world appreciate the rise of mid-century modern decor, where every piece served a purpose. World-famous design companies like Design Within Reach, Herman Miller, and Knoll still continue to recreate the exact same furniture pieces from the 1950s and 60s. In some cases, they're even more popular now than they were 60 years ago. Why have these designs been so resilient over the years?

An expert said that these functional designs were made for a way of living that is still, essentially, our way of living. Millennials today who are living in small apartments in major cities across the world are once again looking at functionality and minimalism.

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