Let’s talk about furniture… yes! Although for many people it may sound like a boring or unfocused topic at first, the most obvious reality is that it can be an interesting, complex home interior topic, and more relevant than anyone might think.
When we think, for example, of the importance that some designs have had, such as the Togo sofa, which over time not only became one of the best-selling and most requested sofas in history, but also a very popular and iconic product among interior designers and users in general, we can begin to understand why making a correct selection of furniture can be the key between a boring layout and one that’s really appealing, memorable, and even with a lot of art and a high sense of aesthetics.
The legacy and relevance of modernism have been on the table for a long time, especially the so-called “Mid-Century Modern”, which covers some decades in the middle of the last century. During those years, some of the most acclaimed pieces of furniture came into the market; products that would soon become symbols of the transformation that the world was undergoing in many of its areas.
Why They Became Iconic Designs?
People wanted to adapt the spaces in which they spent their daily lives to something much more like their lifestyle and, in that regard, furniture was one of the priorities. Practicality, high functionality, resistant and durable materials, and an aesthetic sense based on simplicity and minimalism led the way towards a wide catalog of pieces that would even break paradigms, archetypes, and styles within the world of furniture design.
The Flag Halyard Chair by Hans Wegner, the Bellini sofa by Mario Bellini, the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, the Tulip tables by Eero Saarinen, the Barcelona chair by Lilly Reich y Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and even some pieces outside the “furniture” category, such as the Arco lamp by the Castiglioni brothers became essential icons that set standards for their originality, innovation, and aesthetics in line with the most up-to-date trends and preferences for a home interior.
It was more and more common to find this type of product in homes, office buildings, and even waiting rooms, not only because people requested them more frequently, but also because professional interior designers increasingly recognized their value and the vast possibilities they offer.
The Cornerstone Of Your Home Interior Decor
Let’s take a moment to admire the Shell chair by Hans Wegner… beautiful, isn’t it? And if that’s not enough, it looks amazing from almost any angle, and you can integrate it into almost any modern environment with the confidence that it will add visual and functional value.
This original creation with an authentic spirit is one of the many pieces that are part of this great Dane’s collection and, without a doubt, one of his most famous products. However, you should know that, in fact, it was a design ahead of its time. Its launch dates back to 1963, but its creation process began in 1948 when Wegner began to experiment with laminated wood, a material that would allow him to deliver never seen before designs.
However, although the piece was well received by specialized critics during its launch, the truth is that it wasn’t exactly a sales phenomenon. Consumers, in general, weren’t very familiar with this type of bold aesthetic and weren’t entirely sure how it would work in their spaces, both in an aesthetic and functional sense.
Despite that initial disparagement, several decades later the chair was “revived” by the Carl Hansen & Son furniture company in 1997, this time with very different results. Today, it’s common to find its presence in all kinds of modern decors, and it’s one of the best-selling models in any modern furniture store. A conclusive proof that, when something is destined to succeed in a big way, it will do it regardless of any inconvenience, huh?
Iconic Pieces Have a Lot To Give You!
Recognizing the indisputable value of iconic furniture is essential to generate successful home interior or office layouts, which not only adapt correctly to the users’ lifestyle but also reflect their personality and tastes through their colors, shapes, and materials. The possibilities are almost endless when you begin to discover the huge collection of legendary pieces that the great geniuses of the last century bequeathed to us, many of which even inspired some of the most current designs you can find.
High-quality pieces of furniture can mean many things: part of the family heirloom, a meaningful gift, an award for personal effort, companions in life, and gain sentimental value over the years, as many of them can even appear in photographs of memorable moments with family and friends. Never underestimate the power and value of this type of piece and when your big moment comes to select the ones that will become part of your life and your spaces, always remember: they are the life of the party!
Also check out Mid Century Modern Living Room Ideas and 12 Mid Century Modern Accent Chairs
My passion for Mid-Century Modern design led me to examine life in this fascinating era not only from the inside, but also from the outside. I decided to take a deep-dive into the fascinating history and evolution Mid-Century Modern Architecture.
When I took the time to contemplate Mid-Century design, the accomplishments and impact that designers and architects have made on our world are truly remarkable. Architects have indeed made a tremendous contribution and played a critical role in shaping human civilization. The designs of the mid-century are arguably the most influential in the evolution our modern day architectural designs.
What Is Mid Century Modern Architecture?
Mid century modern architecture is an American architectural movement that began after World War II which is described by clean, sharp lines, relation to nature, and minimal decoration. These homes are distinguished by a very broad, low footprint with a wide, open space, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a focus on embracing the outdoors by letting it shine through the house as much as possible.
This design was inspired by notorious Frank Lloyd Wright, an American architect who developed high prairie style. High prairie properties are known for their simple yet decorative features. When thinking about mid-century modern homes, one can expect an even simpler feel and look than a typical high prairie building.
The popularity of mid-century modern buildings has increased rapidly in recent years despite having boomed in the USA between 1945 and 1969. Apart from the architecture, various interior designing styles have also made these properties enticing to the new generation of homeowners. Danish Modern and Scandinavian designs often complement mid-century modern homes.
It is essential to note that this type of architecture was originally regarded as a collection of houses constructed after World War II; it was not a specific design or style. However, this has changed in today’s world as mid-century modern now depicts a decorative style particular type of building.
The History of Mid Century Modern Architecture
Architecture is, and always was, a product of the era in which we live. Angles, forms, proportions, and materials are constantly adapting in order to keep up with our ever-changing environment. Architects in the mid-twentieth century were attempting to achieve something different and new.
The great architects of the 1940s and 1950s claimed that their forward-thinking design could be used to bring about social change and improve society for everyone. In reality, mid century modern architecture came about during a period of immense shift regarding social norms and standards.
A mid-century modern building takes influence from the Bauhaus and International style and design movements and high-prairie American homes. European architects brought this idea to the USA after fleeing Nazi Germany. A few original well-known designers include Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Marcel Breur. Many of the architects were trained by the father of American architecture, the one, and only Frank Lloyd Wright.
American people placed a great deal of emphasis on embracing nature, spending time with their families, and their lifestyles after World War II. Hence, mid century modern architecture was admired because the properties reflected these ideals.
How does this style support the desired lifestyle of American citizens? An open living space provides an area for the entire family to entertain others, big windows give residents breathtaking views of their backyards and other structures, and technological advances ensure that less time is spent cleaning and organizing the house so individuals can spend more time with their loved ones.
Additionally, mid century modern architecture was further divided into three unique categories during the initial boost in popularity between 1945 and 1969. These three styles include:
A contemporary home is the most popular option defined by floor-to-ceiling windows and clean lines. These properties are also constructed using more organic and natural materials such as stone, brick, and wood. The majority of these homes have exposed interior beams and ceilings, an asymmetrical exterior, and windows that extend to the roofline.
This version, as the name states, was inspired by international designers and architects, specifically the Bauhaus movement. These properties are defined by simple spaces with minimal decoration that were generally finished using stucco.
A smaller group of mid-century modern designers and artists focused on integrating their structures with nature and the environment. They preferred buildings with more natural and organic forms instead of designs with right angles, sharp lines, and specific developments.
Since organic mid-century modern properties were strongly influenced by the natural environment surrounding the architect, an organic mid-century modern house in the desert looks completely different from one in the forest.
As stated above, this term originally applied to a collection of homes and buildings constructed from 1945 to 1969. The majority of today’s mid-century modern houses have kept their original architectural designs and inspiration; however, the term “mid-century modern” may also refer to a specific style of interior decorating.
What Are the Essential Elements of Mid Century Modern Homes?
There is a variety of mid century modern architecture around the world, and each differs from the next. However, the majority of these houses, especially in America, share the following elements:
- Geometric shapes and clean lines
- Variation in elevation
- Floor-to-ceiling windows
- Access to the outdoor surroundings
- Minimal decorations
Geometric Shapes and Clean Lines
Mid century modern architecture relies heavily on right angles and sharp, clean lines. Various contemporary, international, and organic properties have short, level roofs with straight lines, despite the fact that certain modern ranch-style houses have gabled, flat roofs or asymmetrical appearances.
Variation in Elevation
A change in elevation makes a significant difference to the property. Many houses achieve this in the form of a split-level, which connects rooms in the home via a short staircase. Interior designs with partial glass or brick walls, fireplaces in the middle of living rooms, and various cabinets provide depth and contrast in elevation.
The initial mid-century modern buildings highlighted lifestyle and nature; therefore, they were designed with floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the garden, sliding glass doors, and numerous access routes to the yard.
Access to the Outdoor Surroundings
Since engaging with nature is a fundamental factor in mid century modern architecture, the majority of houses with this style feature numerous outdoor entry points. Additionally, in certain buildings, single rooms also have multiple windows and doors that lead to the yard or outdoor living area.
While some types of mid century modern architecture are more decorative than others, simplicity is a crucial and primary feature of the movement. The houses’ minimalist exterior is complemented by simple finishes with intricate lines and a muted color or tonal palette.
Where Can People Find Mid-century Modern Houses?
You will find the influence of Mid century modern architecture all over the world and especially in Europe.
The growth of suburban America correlates with the emergence of mid-century modern houses. When World War II troops came home after the battle, they constructed these types of simple properties all over the country, which means people can find mid-century modern homes and high prairie in almost every town in each state in America.
Palm Springs, California, however, has the greatest number of mid-century modern buildings. Palm Springs is home to a few well-known international mid century modern architects, who designed houses, motels, hotels, and many other properties. Many homeowners are also trying to build or construct new developments that replicate the style of the existing contemporary houses.
Why is Palm Springs such a desirable area regarding this specific style of design? Is there an explanation as to why it is the pinnacle when it comes to mid century modern architecture? For some particular reason, the rugged landscape of this Californian area inspired several architects, who chose to construct their creations in Palm Springs’ desert regions.
Fallingwater, by Frank Lloyd Wright (1935)
This minimalist style resulted in a breathtaking contrast with the area’s great mountains and plains, establishing the uncanny and dreamlike ambiances people expect when thinking of Palm Springs.
Who Are the Important Mid century Modern Architects?
There are a few designers and artists who really helped shape a particular style and design. When it comes to mid century modern architecture, here are a few standout architects:
- Alvar Aalto
- Eero Saarinen
- Arne Jacobsen
- Richard Neutra
- Mies Van Der Rohe
- Frank Lloyd Wright
The patterns of Alvar Aalto‘s creations represent his practice, which ranges from Nordic Classicism to a logical International Style Modernism during the 1930s to a more natural modern style during the 1940s.
Eero Saarinen was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer in the 20th-century. He was known for his neo-futuristic and mid-century modern designs. The TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, which closed over recent years, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, are two of his most popular developments.
Arne Emil Jacobsen was a Danish designer and architect, better known for his contributions to the architectural functionalism movement. His creations are primarily found in northern Europe and feature a traditional mid-century style.
Richard Joseph Neutra was an artist who was born in Austria and raised in the United States. He became known as a significant modern architect after spending the better part of his career in Southern California, where he lived and built various properties.
Mies Van Der Rohe
Mies van der Rohe, a German-born architect, lived in the United States and pursued his passions. He is widely recognized as one of the founders of modern or contemporary architecture, alongside Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Farnsworth House, possibly one of the most prominent buildings worldwide, is undoubtedly one of Rohe’s most recognized developments.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, designer, educator and writer. A prolific designer of over 1,000 structures, Wright believed in designing in harmony with humanity and the environment, a philosophy exemplified in his masterpiece Fallingwater. Wright became a key figure in the architectural movements of the twentieth century, inspiring generations of architects around the world.
The Bottom Line
In the 20th century, mid-century modern architecture transformed traditional design into a new and more natural aesthetic. The amazing contributions of mid-century modern architecture continue to influence architects and designers of today, and will probably be influencing them forever.
Thinking about building your own house with a mid-century modern style?
Check out this plan and others from architecturaldesigns.com
Here are some excellent related books from amazon:
Checkout some of our other Mid Century Modern articles: