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Style focus: mid-century modern

date 04 Oct 2018

The mid-century modern movement embraced all things clean and minimal, and, thanks to pop culture influences like Mad Men, has become one of the most sought after design trends for home and office spaces alike. It has no signs of slowing down any time soon, but we’re not mad about it! In this instalment of our ‘style focus’ series, we take a quick look at the history of this design period, as well as highlight some of our favourite ways to create a stylishly mod space that looks anything but outdated.

Mid-century modern design occurred roughly between 1935 and 1965, and describes the interior, architectural, design and urban developments that came about after World War II. With a sudden demand for homes that were quick to build as a response to the postwar population boom, simple, open and clean-lined structures were born, and placed an emphasis on the flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. Furniture design also followed suit, with functional pieces stripped from elaborate details that could be mass-produced and reach a broader market. However, it was only in 1984 that the iconic phrase was born, and was coined by author Cara Greenberg in her book, Mid-century Modern Furniture: Furniture of the 1950s.

Read on below for our top mid-century furniture designs to adopt into your home!

Leg work

Though invented long before its heyday, tapered legs surged in popularity during the mid-century and became a hallmark of its time. Featuring a gradual thinning in the leg and sometimes positioned at a slight angle, this design element was a steer from traditional stately furniture, and helped give interiors the illusion of a light and lifted look by opening up floor space. Its natural ability to open up a room makes this a popular style for compact homes today, and helps add those refined, vintage touches that draw on the best of a bygone era.


Get the look: Vintage dining table; Vintage dining chair; M multi rack

Function first, then form

One of the biggest design principles that emerged during the 20th century was ‘form follows function’, where furniture deviated from typically ornate structures and took on simpler, pared-back silhouettes governed by a primary purpose. This gave way to incredibly utilitarian and versatile pieces that, when coupled with mid-century furniture’s ageless designs, still work as stylish space-saving solutions for compact apartments today.

For those who live in a petite home, love to have guests over, and have a penchant for mid-century modern design, we recommend opting for a set of nesting tables. Its two-piece design can be pulled apart to provide extra surface space when guests are over, stacked back together when not in use, or even styled in a slightly staggered manner to create a lovingly layered look. Pair this with a sleek sofa bed accented with button detailing, which will provide your overnight guests with a comfortable stay while giving your space that decidedly retro feel.


Get the look: Vintage nest of two tables | Splitback sofa bed

Stay grounded

While newer materials like vinyl, fibreglass and glass were introduced into furniture design during the mid-century, there was still a notable use of traditional mediums throughout this period. Natural materials like teak and walnut wood bring an organic warmth through its beautiful brown grains, and worked particularly well at the time given there was a strong emphasis on bringing the outdoors in. When browsing for wooden furniture, be sure to look for a clean-lined silhouette that reflects the era’s minimalist approach, and consider low-profile pieces that are sure to add an inviting, laid-back and livable feel that characterised many mid-century homes.


Get the look: Wave sideboard | Solo magazine rack (in stores only) | Lloyd Loom Joe lounge chair (in stores only)

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