4 Ways To Rethink Mid-Century Modern Décor

4 Ways To Rethink Mid-Century Modern Décor

A closer look at the different expressions of mid-century décor.
A closer look at the different expressions of mid-century décor.

W e all know the names of classic icons of Mid-Century design: Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, George Nelson, Florence Knoll. These Mid-Century designers worked with functional, modern, organic designs that maintain their popularity today. Interestingly, Mid-Century design extends well beyond a handful of popular designers into fluid micro-movements such as Mid-Century American Classicism, Mexican Modernism, Eastern European Modernism and even Hollywood Regency Revival. In all cases, Mid-Century Modern designers positively establish that mass-produced furniture can be both comfortable and luxurious.

1. Mid-Century American Classicism: An inspired succession 
The pieces designed during the Mid-Century American Classical period are known for their pronounced details and celebration of form.

Many mid-century American designers embraced forms inspired by classical antiquity, but imbued them with a modern, updated sensibility. The American nod to antiquity has always been firmly embedded in the country’s aesthetic, and the designers of the Mid-Century looked back at this tradition with fresh eyes. Aspiring to make this work uncomplicated and approachable, designers like Robsjohn-Gibbings (one of many outstanding examples) as well as Baker created works with clean lines for the modern patron. The pieces designed during the Mid-Century American Classical period are known for their pronounced details and celebration of form.

2. Mexican Modern: Luxurious functionalism
Mexican Modern designers captured the organic forms of the era. Furniture pieces and wall accents also highlight the designers’ concerns with both sculptural and honest approaches to material.

Mexican and expatriate European designers translated Modernist tenets to a Mexican sensibility with exotic local materials and a strong indigenous tradition of craftsmanship. Restrained and luxurious, Mexican Modern designers captured the organic forms of the era. Furniture pieces and wall accents also highlight the designers’ concerns with both sculptural and honest approaches to material.

3. Eastern European Modernism: Alluring modernity
Eastern European Modernism takes a unique approach to modern composition. Their refined use of luxury materials has resulted in many bold and ambitious free-standing pieces.

20th-century Eastern European art and design had deep connections to the contemporary European art movements of the time, but suffered from isolation due to a series of historical dislocations that have left the West largely unfamiliar with its significant contributions. More well-known designers like Marcel Breuer married functionalism and production, which was a vocabulary shared by his contemporaries. Admired for sensational finishings and alluring exteriors, the living room décor and coffee tables display unique modern decorative elements.

4. A Natural Next Step: Hollywood Regency Revival showstoppers
The 1970s and early 1980s saw a resurgence of opulent materials and finishes (lacquer, mirroring, metallics, rich burlwoods, Lucite, brass) in a stripped-down version of the popular Hollywood Regency style of the 1930s–1950s.

As Mid-Century waned, Hollywood Regency Revival stepped in as a healthy complement and as a charismatic transition. Attracted to new methods and materials, these designers echoed the Golden Age of Hollywood glamour while building on Mid-Century novelty of form. Designers created objects that were technically advanced and concentrated on high-style furniture.

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