Mid Century Modern

During the 90’s and into the 2000’s I lived in beautiful Palm Springs which is the mecca of Mid Century Modern. The Palm Springs area is a hot spot in Southern California that consists of popular cities like Palm Desert, Indio, Desert Hot Springs, La Quinta, and Indian Wells. The city was made famous thanks to celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Merv Griffin, and Bob Hope who would flock to this desert city. The Palm Springs area still attracts celebrities from movie stars to musicians, but it also draws Mid Century Modern fans from all around the world.

The city of Palm Springs began to blossom at the precise moment that the Mid Century Modern style picked up in the architecture scene. The city became the epicenter of this style and has more Mid Century Modern buildings per acre than any other city in the world. Since then, Palm Springs has become a place of pilgrimage for hardcore lovers of this design style.

Palm Springs

Always popular and forever timeless, Mid Century Modern has captured a lot of favoritism in the design aficionado category. Although sleek and ageless, this style can quickly take over a room and make it appear dated if it isn’t implemented correctly. The solution to this is to understand the histrionics and create an easily put together modern mix.

Mid Century Modern
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What Defines Mid-Century Style

Mid-century modern is a clichéd buzzword that has come to mean a lot of different things, and not all of them precise. It’s really a reference to changes from the middle of the 20th century, primarily after World War II, in architecture, furniture, materials and technologies that became popular. Currently, it is most used in reference to furnishings and interior décor. Mid-century modern has its beginnings in Germany’s Bauhaus style. Thanks to the migration from Europe after World War II, designers brought this type of interior décor o the United States.

Though the term Mid Century Modern wasn’t coined until the mid-80’s and no one really knows its true timeline, the era usually represents the time period of the mid 1930’s to mid-1960s. This design concept really took hold thanks to new technologies and materials. The style not only encompasses interior design but includes architecture as well as industrial and graphic design. This article will only be about interior Mid Century Modern.

Designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, Arne Jacobsen, and George Nelson created furniture and lighting that are still highly sought-after. Many of these craftsmen are known for their strong connection to nature which translated into their creations. Mid Century Modern furniture is clearly defined by the clean lines, curved and smoothed edges, and lack of adornment or elaborate upholstery. You’ll see a lot of wooden construction, metal/fiberglass/plastic sections are often incorporated. The rise of new materials and shapes came from the scarcity of traditional building materials during the war.

Mid Century Modern
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Characteristics of Mid Century Modern

  1. Clean Lines– The modest and unfussy look of mid-century modern comes from its clean lines, curves, and smooth surfaces. The design attitude is about focusing on the function of the pieces. It’s about as far away as you can get from the overstated and heavily ornate pieces from other interior design styles (Art Deco, Hollywood Regency, Victorian, etc.). Big and hefty furniture was replaced with light and airy spaces that show off new practical shapes, using both organic and geometric forms. Think of the boomerang or kidney shape as dominant in this look. Mid-century modern fundamentally launched the clean and uncluttered look.
Mid Century Modern
Apartment Therapy/ Image by Esteban Cortez

2. New Materials– Mid Century Modern designers excelled in furniture creations with the post-war surge of new materials, especially plastics. Plywood, metals, vinyl, fiberglass, Lucite and Plexiglass all made their debut in furnishings of this era. Many of these new materials also made the pieces affordable. Although wood details are an element throughout this design style, which comes from the Scandinavian inspirations.

Mid Century Modern
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3. Colors– Mid Century style is not just about shapes; its designers also included distinctive color palettes. Ranging from vibrant shades to gorgeous pastels. Orange and brown; chartreuse and gray; pink and brown; teal, brown and white are all colors which were popular uses in design concept. These notable color combinations can be found in textiles and accessories, and you can always saturate your room with them by painting the walls.

4. Comfort & Functionality– The new drive to provide postwar America shifted the focus to the routine needs of the average daily life. A lot of the furniture during the Mid Century Modern era was built with the aim of being stackable, foldable and interchangeable but had to be functional and comfortable. Something interior design had not seen yet. These changes also moved home décor from a formal style and into a casual direction.

Why Is it Still So Popular Today?

The enduring popularity of this style is based on many aspects. Mid Century Modern gave us clean lines, gentle organic curves, a love for different materials and designs that are admired still to this day. Its features and characteristics make it a great fit for today’s contemporary, modern and bohemian home interiors. A connection to simplicity and the incorporation of natural materials is a core feature. And true Mid Century Modern style is considered ageless, fresh and chic.

Found this post interesting? Read my other articles:

Acquaint Yourself With Coastal Interior Design

Get the Hollywood Regency Look

Learning About Shabby Chic

Most Popular Design Trends For This Decade

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Donna Poole

    I enjoy your design world because it’s something I know nothing about! I do recognize this Mid Century Modern. Mom was so proud of our orange kitchen!

    1. Kimmothy

      I recall orange kitchens- also remember the avocado green and harvest gold! Thank you for reading, Donna!

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