With the end in sight of popular TV show Mad Men, it is no wonder that many people are still fascinated with the actors but also the set and the era that it is set in. The design style, known as mid-century modern, has seen a revival in recent years. At Floor Coverings International Henderson, we stay up to date with trends so we can share them with our customers. Here’s how you can get the look in your home.
Before we jump into the full list of elements, let’s do a brief history lesson. Mid-century modern, as its name implies, began in the middle part of the 20th century. It often has ties to many other design styles and movements, that help to make it a voice all its own. Mid-century modern influenced not just furniture design, but also architecture and even graphic design. Notable designers, whose work is still felt today, include Eames (both Ray and Charles), Isamu Noguchi, and George Nelson (although some might claim that his firm should actually be given many of his credits). It has ties to modern thought and beliefs derived out of the early 1900s with the age of modernism. Out of the Depression, with fewer materials, architects and designers made do to still capture a hopeful spirit. While it can be seen as a very American-style, mid-century modern, was also done in different variations across the world. The flourishing economy of the 60s helped to contribute to the spread of this design style.
One reason of its popularity back then and its revival today, is because of its livable luxury and unassuming beauty. There can be many different sources in a home that help to embody these traits. While there are clean lines, that are so familiar with a modern look today, there are still traces of organic shapes that might be seen as being taken from the flourishes and arcs of the Art Deco period in the 20s and 30s. You can find these curved shapes in pieces such as the Tulip Chair made by Eero Saarinen, the back along the Eames’ Lounge Chair, and even the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen.
The organic nature and feeling with this style also lends itself to another key element of emphasis on the indoor-outdoor space that many notable architects of the time believed in. You can see this in countless homes of that period, such as the Eames’ Case Study #8, The Farnsworth House, and those by Eichler Homes. These architects strongly believed in the relationship of the house and its environment. Try this out with an open floor plan, skylights, and entertaining space outside. Large glass windows can really help to highlight this style.
To incorporate the outdoors inside your home, look to organic materials and nature. Wood elements are common, as is seen in Scandinavian design as well, particularly in furnishings. Look to the rich leather paired with slim wood like in the Eames design, along with elongated conical legs on sofas, coffee tables, and kidney tiered bar carts. If you’re not interested in creating the most historically accurate depiction, or are not a set designer, consider bringing in wood in new ways such as a planter or vase, or as a lamp base in a fluid shape.
Many people hear modern and think of stark designs, but mid-century modern (not to be confused with the overarching modernism) is very livable. Take it from visitors in the Eames’ home, or watch this walkthrough, to see what some say is an almost cluttered space. While you don’t have to live in a cluttered mess, this design style can feel quite cozy due to its color palette. The architecture of the time used primary colors like from the De Stijl movement, while the Farnsworth home treasured white. There is no constant color. Bold hues can be used discreetly and can be mixed amongst each other.
Some say that MCM has ties to folk as well as the arts and crafts movement in the United States which crew in the 1880s to 1910s, which really helps to push up the cozy factor. This style is about being comfortable. Beautiful objects should not be separate from function. To bring this into your home try fun patterns and of course art on the walls. Graphic patterns on the wall will help to make for a bold choice. You can even choose more mod elements for a more retro look.
After WWII, there was a shortage in supplies which is why many designs were clever to use previously unconventional materials; elements like steel and concrete structures. The homes very often didn’t try to conceal the materials of the home but incorporated them. In subdivisions done by Eichler Homes designed by many such as A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons among others, post-beam constructions with open floor plans were common. Glass and steel are prominent in early works like the Farnsworth and even skyscrapers of the times. You can see a wide variety of materials in mid-century modern design. Wood is prominent as we have mentioned, but also concrete and stones such as with flooring, and even aluminum and steel in the base of the tulip chairs, and in lamps and light fixtures like the Arco floor lamp.
Mid-century modern doesn’t have to feel stark like what many believe modernism tends to be. One way to pack a punch is with lighting and accessories. Nelson associates designed a variety of these such as the lighting, orb clocks, and of course the iconic ball wall clock. Even flowing shapes such as those by Noguchi should be noted to break up monochromatic walls or even the linear lines in many homes.
Choose MCM for the perfect merge between cool without having to sacrifice the benefits of comfort and practicality. It will mix extremely well with other design styles, like its distant Scandinavian cousin, Shaker, or even folk. This can help you create a unique mix in your home to create a style that is truly yours! Want to see how you can pair this style with the perfect flooring choice? Give Floor Coverings International Las Vegas a call today so we can bring the samples to you!
This blog post features an image by Breather, under Public Domain by Creative Commons License Zero (CC0 1.0). It is a nice contemporary take on this design style, and has similar furniture elements in terms of shape and fabric authentic pieces of the time).