Mid-century Modern describes an era of style and design that began roughly in the mid-1940s and continued into the mid-1960s. It is an organic offshoot of Modern design that’s often associated with the casual furnishings and carefree look of Eichler tract homes in suburban California during the 1950s.
In addition, the Mid-century Modern era is noted for the mass-production of household objects, from furniture to clocks to lamps to radios, because many of its chief designers (Charles and Ray Eames foremost among them) made it a requirement that their work be affordable to the average homeowner rather than the wealthy elite.
The United States, Britain, Japan, and Scandinavia were centers for the Mid Century Modern aesthetic. In the U.S., Herman Miller produced plywood, fiberglass, and wire-mesh chairs for Charles and Ray Eames (the metal chairs with covers designed by Alexander Girard are highly collectible), as well as the famous Marshmallow sofas for George Nelson. Knoll made insect-like wire chairs for Harry Bertoia and cool, white-and-red fiberglass-and-aluminum Tulip chairs for Eero Saarinen.
In England, Ernest Race produced handsome sideboards and economical folding deck chairs in the Mid-century Modern style. Fellow Brit Robin Day worked with Hille Ltd. to create everything from convertible beds to tables and chairs. He is also credited with designing the first polypropylene stacking chair.
Japanese designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, a giant of Mid-century Modern, designed for both Knoll and Herman Miller. His three-piece wood and glass table from 1948 has been a mainstay of the Miller catalog for more than half a century, while the bases on his tables for Knoll used metal rods in a way that was very similar to some of the Eames’s chairs. Japanese-American George Nakashima, who was interred during World War II, designed for Knoll but also brought a woodworker’s sensibility to his furniture, often using the natural and even deformed shapes of his raw materials to lead him.
And then there were the Scandinavians. Børge Mogensen designed chairs of elegant simplicity that harmonized form with functionality, while his Sleigh Chair was as whimsical as its name suggests. Arne Jacobsen’s Swan chair held its users in a palm-like embrace. Finn Juhl took a more sculptural approach for his wood-frame seats — even a Juhl coffee table looks like a work of art. As for Hans Wegner, he made a chair that was so highly regarded it was used by Nixon and Kennedy in a 1960 presidential debate and has since become known simply as The Chair.
Furniture was not the only product of note to come out of the Mid-century Modern movement. For some reason, clocks, especially wall clocks, became a design force to be reckoned with. When George Nelson wasn’t designing furniture for Herman Miller, he was working with the Howard Miller Clock Co. on a series of marvelous modern wall clocks. He made clocks whose hands pointed to colored balls on the ends of slender shafts; clocks that resembled sunbursts, sunflowers, and asterisks; and even a clock that suggested a human eye...
Nelson and Miller were also responsible for the Bubble Lamps, which were made of steel and translucent plastic and were designed to hang from the ceilings of Mid-century Modern homes, either as individual globes, ellipses, and cylinders or in clusters. Other lamps popular during this period, and produced by a wide range of designers and manufacturers, were the pole-tension lamps that lit up corners of livings rooms and the "atomic" boomerang lamp shades designed for table lamps.
Nothing escaped Mid-century Modern, from transistor radios to lava lamps, which had yet to be associated with the psychedelic 1960s still a few years a way. It was perhaps the last time that design drove the look and feel of popular culture. Soon, the roles would be irrevocably reversed.
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New Balance 998 "Mid-Century Modern"Sneaker News, July 27th
New Balance proceeds in the only way they know how, with more high-quality made in the USA editions of their classic running silhouettes. Next up to start out fall is the “Mid-Century Modern” pack, featuring a few favorite models in colorways and...Read more
A Gleaming Mid-Century Modern Gets a Price Chop to $1.29MCurbed Philly, July 23rd
One thing that strikes you about this home...it sparkles. And its been doing that since 1963, when it came into the world. Five bedrooms in a 5,524 s.f. home? Sounds spacious. But where would all these people eat? Surely they couldn't fit in the...Read more
1950s ellis jacobs' home transformed into mid-century modernDesignboom, July 18th
klopf architecture, outer space landscape architects, and flegels construction came together to update a classic, 1950s home, originally designed by the late ellis jacobs. pushing the original intent, the remodel greatly opens the interior, creating a...Read more
New Balance Presents The "Mid-Century Modern" PackSneaker News, July 17th
Continuing their Made In USA “Distinct Collection” with themes inspired by distinctly American subjects, New Balance presents the Mid-Century Modern pack this fall. After coloring up their classic runners with colors inspired by other American themes...Read more
The Durham Hotel: Before, a gutted shell. After, Mid-Century Modern luxuryThe Independent Weekly, July 15th
When I arrived in Durham nine years ago, two downtown buildings caught my eye: The Oprah Building, aka, the Jack Tar Motel, and the former Home Savings/ Mutual Savings Bank. Against all the early 20th century brick buildings, these mid-century oddities...Read more
Jerry Bruckheimer's Selling His Multimillion-Dollar Mid-Century Modern in L.A.Realtor.com News, July 13th
“It is very unusual to find a true one-story, Mid-Century Modern international house like this one in this area. Most of the properties in this neighborhood are traditional homes,” says Deasy. As for the 71-year-old Bruckheimer, the prolific producer...Read more
Mid-Century Modern by Kurt Meyer-Radon in Glendale's Verdugo Woodlands Asking ...Curbed LA, July 12th
Per the Listing: "Ultra stylish mid century modern circa 1952 is the classic example of California living. Designed by Kurt Meyer-Radon, (whom Hearst commissioned to purchase items for San Simeon), located in the lush Verdugo woodlands of Glendale on ...Read more
Well-Preserved Mid-Century Modern With Pool in Westchester Asking $849000Curbed LA, July 4th
Per the Listing: "The full exuberance and promise of post war Los Angeles can be felt in this original and exciting Mid Century Modern architectural home designed by Raymond Dean Conwell (AIA) in 1953 for the F. S. Kellstrom family (and featured in the ...Read more