Mid century modern furniture
Mid century modern furniture is a style of furniture which developed in the mid 1930s and remained prevalent until the mid 1960s. The Mid Century style was also highly influential in the fields of architecture and industrial design, and is recognised as one of the most important design movements of the 20th century.
Mid Century modern furniture is characterized by a number of factors. These include:
- Sleek, smooth lines and streamlined shapes
- New materials such as plastic, fibreglass and steel
- The combination of natural materials such as teak and leather with man-made materials to create contrasts
- The use of vibrant colours
- An emphasis on practicality and function rather than aesthetic appeal
History and background
Modern designers sought to break ties with the past in the aftermath of the Second World War, and the emphasis on design moved from tradition and craftsmanship to functionality and ease of use. They embraced modern production methods along with new materials such as moulded plywood and plastics, and created designs with fresh, simple lines and forms.
The movement has its roots in the European ideas of the 1920s, and designers that looked towards mass-produced goods rather than the old traditions of hand-crafted, heavily decorated furniture. These principles were practised by the German Bauhaus school of designers during the 1920s, who were influenced by Modernism and wished to separate form and function from history and politics after the First World War.
The Mid Century Modern designers that emerged in the late 1940s built upon these principles, combining mass-production with functional designs that would be affordable to the average worker. The movement flourished in the United States, Japan, Britain and Scandinavia, as designers were inspired by rapidly developing ideas in art, science and technology combined with a booming middle class market of consumers.
Influential Mid Century Modern designers
Some of the most important and influential Mid Century Modern designers include:
- Charles and Ray Eames
- Ernest Race
- Robin Day
- Le Corbusier
- Isamu Noguchi
- Børge Mogensen
- Arne Jacobsen
- Marcel Breuer
- Harry Bertoia
- David Rowland
- George Nelson
Collecting Mid Century Modern furniture
Original Mid Century Modern furniture is highly popular with collectors, with original pieces selling for tens of thousands of dollars in some cases. The collectors market in the United States is particularly strong, with pieces by American designers such as Eames, Bertoia and Loewy the most sought after.
Original furniture by British and Scandinavian designers of the period can be more affordable, but the growth in popularity of Mid Century Modern furniture since the 1990s has seen prices in almost every area rise, from ceramics and glassware to chairs, tables and lighting.
An important factor to consider when looking for original pieces is that many of the designs continue to be manufactured to this day. The relatively timeless qualities of this furniture means many pieces have never gone out of style, and modern reproductions are highly common.
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