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Article: Understanding mid-century modern design

Understanding mid-century modern design

The best thing about Mid-Century Modern furniture is that it suits almost all interiors, no matter the style of architecture, and it can be paired with just about any  other item in your design and decoration arsenal.


Mid-Century Modern design has had a revival over the last 10 to 15 years and there a significant sign of its popularity waning.

Like fashion, interior design goes through trends that reference styles from eras gone by. One era that has been enjoying a serious resurgence over the last decade is Mid-Century Modern. Originating in the mid-20th century, this pared-back, sculptural interior design style is perfect for mixing and matching with contemporary items in your home.


What is Mid-Century Modern design?

While most people will be familiar with some classic furniture designs from this period, such as the Eames lounge chair or Arne Jacobsen’s ‘Egg’ chair, what actually characterises Mid-Century Modern design?

‘Form follows function’ was a popular design theory during the 20th century and the Mid-Century Modern movement embraced functionality. This brought together a mix of organic shapes, clean lines and minimal embellishments. Typical Mid-Century Modern features include:

  • sculptural, organic shapes
  • clean, pared-back and easy-to-use designs
  • simple fabrication from materials such as timber and steel.

Scandinavia, particularly Denmark and Sweden, was home to some of Mid-Century Modern’s most famous proponents, including Arne Jacobsen, Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl. In the United States, Ray and Charles Eames, George Nelson  were among the leading lights.

After World War II, a Mid-Century Modern movement emerged in Australia. Designers such as Grant Featherston, Clement Meadmore and Lester Bunbury led the local movement, which was influenced by international design trends, new production techniques and materials, and the influx of European immigrants with traditions in furniture making.

The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne recently held an extensive retrospective of Australia’s Mid-Century Modern movement. The accompanying book, Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design, is a wonderful reference if you are interested in the design period.

Scape armchair 1960 Australia Grant Featherston

Where can I find it?

Many original pieces are still around and scouring auction houses, op shops, and retro, vintage and antique stores can lead to fantastic finds. However, competition is rife, so expect to pay high prices. Before you start shopping, use catalogues to research the Mid-Century Modern designers and identify pieces you’re interested in so that you know what to look for.



Note that The designer name and his products was mentioned in this article to demonstrate  the history of furniture design and it doesn't  represent any of the items sold in this store.  

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