We all know that trends come and go, but style lasts forever. Mid Century Modern isn’t so much a furniture trend, as the style.
The phrase Mid Century Modern was first coined by art historian and writer Cara Greenberg in 1983 and is perfectly phonetic to the style; It’s straight to the point, simple and no nonsense, exactly like the designs it encompasses.
The New York Times first noted the resurgence of Mid Century Modern as a style in 1998, when young New Yorkers started to turn towards space aged fibreglass and organic wooden shapes, and threw out their heavy iron furniture and saturated colours.
Here we are nearly 20 years on, and if anything the style has become even more popular. It’s no secret that we at Pash Classics are also big fans, so to help you understand where we’re coming from, here’s what you need to know about Mid Century Modern furniture.
The exact period that we refer to as Mid Century Modern is debated and really it is open to interpretation, which is how all great design movements should be! But most lovers of the style will agree that 1933 to 1965 is when the style was pioneered:
The style originated from the famous German Bauhaus movement and its pioneers such as Mies van der Rohe, whose iconic Barcelona Chair could be stated as the first piece of mid-century modern furniture.
During the mid to late 1930’s many designers fled Germany and vulnerable areas of Europe as a result of changing beliefs in their home countries. Several of these designers emigrated to the United States where their minds were nurtured by the rapid creation of new materials such as fibreglass, and more effective production methods.
Just as the 30’s and early 40’s had pioneered new materials and increased the potential of furniture design, the late 40’s and 50’s were an equal blessing to any designer who embraced this new style. New houses were needed quickly and in vast quantities, which of course meant affordable furniture was required to fill these homes.
To keep costs low, their function high and their style simple, pieces were often created from only one or two types of materials and with as few colours. From here a large range of now iconic designs were created which embraced new materials, often with artificial qualities and balanced perfectly with natural wood.
But if you thought that Mid Century Modern was a movement stuck in its ways of one specific aesthetic, you’d be wrong! George Nelson, an innovator and designer of the renowned Marshmallow Sofa determined three types of Mid Century Modern:
- Bio Morphic: Characterised by its smooth surfaces, organic curves and natural flow, the style was especially loved by Charles and Ray Eames. A perfect example? The Eames La Chaise, designed in 1948 for a Museum of Modern Art competition. Its organic shape was inspired by ‘Floating Figure’, a sculpture by Gaston Lachaise.
- Machine: Chances are this is the style you think of when you think Mid Century Modern! Originating strongly from the Bauhaus movement, the Machine style uses space aged geometric shapes in combination with cutting edge materials and a focus on form following function. In many ways, ‘Machine’ is the 1950’s in a nutshell.
- Handmade: Danish design has taken the world by storm over recent years for many of the same reasons as Mid Century Modern. Their approach towards minimalism with sculptural lines and a focus on quality is certainly refreshing in today’s fast-fashion world. However, that Danish style we all love originated from ‘Handmade’ Mid Century. Pash Classics’ range of handmade mid century sideboards embody this whole philosophy of style.
It’s this focus on low key yet beautiful design and their affordable high quality that meant MCM didn’t die out when the baby boom years ended. So if you’re looking for a piece of furniture that will last as long as it will look stylish, Mid Century Modern is the way to go.