REVEALED: THE TRUE STYLE OF ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR DESIGN TRENDS THAT HAS RETAINED ITS TIMELESS LOOK, DECADES AFTER BEING INTRODUCED
Mid-century modern. The world is obsessed. Whether you’re aware or not, everywhere you look — every restaurant, retail store, and even your favourite coffee shop — will most likely feature some sort of mid-century modern design.
This internationally popular style, however, does have a name that’s thrown around loosely. Furniture retailers love to label pieces with this interior design buzzword, despite there being nothing “mid-century modern” about the items themselves.
A style quite difficult to define, mid-century modern broadly describes architecture, furniture and design from the middle of the 20th century, roughly 1933-1965. You’ve no doubt heard some of the names: Eames, Cherner, Pretzel, Chippendale and don’t forget the Marshmallow sofa.
In the mid ’90s, a niche market of collectors started driving prices to phenomenal amounts.
An article in the New York Times stated folding plywood Eames chairs would sell for $10,000 in 1994, while the Marshmallow sofa for a cool $66,000.
Mid-century modern emphasises pareddown forms, organic materials and contemporary patterns, which in turn create functional comfort and style.
Homes took advantage of creating balance and aesthetic flow between the indoors and out, with the idea to connect the natural world with internal spaces. Furnishings and floor plans are predominantly pared back to their essential form with no excess detailing, allowing the beautiful design and structure of the pieces themselves to flourish.
Now mid-century modern furniture is largely driven by innovative businesses and mass production.
While original pieces will fetch outrageous prices, there are numerous companies that manufacture copied designs which have great success with replicas.
So why does mid-century modern continue to remain at the forefront of furniture and design, and why do retailers embrace its clean lines so empathically? I went to the most reliable source I know, Sotheby Holdeman, arguably the worldwide head of 20th century design and here’s what he said.
“Mid-century pieces are simply welldesigned objects, with a timeless look. They sit very well in contemporary homes and interiors — they still feel fresh today, they still feel modern. A lot of those pieces haven’t been bettered. They still stand the test of time.”
Sotheby argues that original pieces will never be bettered, and while I most certainly agree, I still won’t be paying $3.9 million for a Carlo Mollino dining table any time soon, as one investor did in 2005.