Mid Century and Mid Century Modern (MCM) furniture are not the same thing. Actually, there is a world of difference. While Mid Century Modern refers to the design movement that became popular after WWII in 1945, Modern Design developed in the 1930s, and is a precursor to MCM, with key figures such as Le Corbusier. This philosophy, based on simple form and function, lead to Mid Century Modern Design. Read on to learn more!
Furniture Over Time
If you love interior design, terminology matters. The terms Mid Century and Mid Century Modern, which might seem interchangeable, have nuances you may not have heard about before. Once you understand the differences between them, you will be able to pick the pieces of furniture that will impress your design-savvy visitors.
During WWII, people had more serious things to think about than furniture or design, so interior decoration remained in the greens and browns of the 1930s. After the war, and in the middle of a post-war rationing period, designers went for the extra mile to create affordable and practical furniture.
Only those with a genuine need for furniture were allowed to get it. Fabrics, generally, would come in colours that would not show the dirt, and chairs were low-backed in order to save wood. By the 1950s, interest in interiors returned, and many designers got their inspiration from art.
The most well-known creators of mid-century modern furniture include Eero Saarinen, George Nelson, Harry Bertoia, and Charles and Ray Eames. Their furniture designs are still in high demand today and have become famous. With many people now recognizing its clean lines, usability, and timeless design, mid-century modern furniture has seen a recent upsurge in favour.
The surrealist paintings of Spanish painter Joan Miró, for instance, were copied on ceramics, curtains and carpets. Department stores like John Lewis started to import Scandinavian furniture. The countries of origin included Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark. At the moment, we are the largest North American dealers of Mid Century Modern Furniture. And the good news is, we are based in Ottawa.
MCM was, and is, about being minimal. Furniture serves a purpose, and function is the primary focus of all design. For this reason, lines were kept clean from the very beginning. Especial interest in Danish design in America began when Edgar Kaufmann Jr, from the MoMA, acquired some items for the Fallingwater home, which ultimately lead to mass-production.
Characteristics of Mid Century Modern Furniture
The world seems to be obsessed with Mid Century Modern Design. Today, more than ever, its looks are literally everywhere. In the 1980s, the interest in the period started to return. Here are 4 characteristics of this type of furniture:
- Colours: A pop of excitement, but not too much
- Materials: Wood, particularly teak. Also plastic, glass and metal
- Lines: Smooth surfaces and clean lines and curves
- Pattern and Texture: an essential combination
Differences Between Mid-Century and Mid-Century Furniture
Both mid-century and mid-century modern furniture were created in the same era, from the 1930s through the 1960s, making them comparable. There are some distinctions between the two, though:
- Mid-century modern furniture refers especially to furniture designs that are contemporary and utilitarian, with clean lines and basic shapes. Mid-century furniture often refers to furniture pieces that were developed and produced during the mid-20th century.
- While mid-century modern furniture designers were influenced by the Bauhaus movement, which stressed the use of contemporary materials like steel, glass, and plastic, mid-century furniture designers used natural materials such as wood, leather, and metal.
- Mid-century contemporary furniture prioritized simplicity and shunned adornment, but mid-century furniture designs frequently contained intricate detailing.
- Whereas mid-century furniture concentrated more on style and ornamentation, mid-century modern furniture was created to fulfill the needs of a new generation of homeowners who were searching for elegant, practical, and functional furniture that mirrored the modern sensibilities of the time.
Mid-century modern furniture is a distinct subgroup of mid-century furniture that prioritizes efficiency and simplicity above adornment and flair, despite significant overlap between the two styles overall.
Most Popular Mid Century Modern Furniture Designs:
MCM is timeless, contemporary, and looks good in almost any space. In case you were wondering which are the most iconic Mid Century Modern Furniture pieces, here are some of the ones you definitely need to know:
- Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman (Charles and Ray Eames)
- Arco Floor Lamp (Flos)
- Florence Knoll Sofa (Florence Knoll)
- Noguchi Table (Isamu Noguchi)
- Egg Chair (Arne Jacobsen)
- Starbust Clock (Nelson Associates)
- Ball Chair (Eero Aarnio)
- Jacaranda Sideboard (Sergio Rodrigues)
If you are located in Ottawa, come by our store to browse our selection of both Mid-Century & Mid-Century Modern furniture.