Mid-century modern is an architectural, interior, product and graphic design that describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965. The term was reaffirmed in 1983 by Cara Greenberg in the title of her book, Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s (Random House), celebrating the style that is now recognized by scholars and museums worldwide as a significant design movement.
While Mid-Century modern originally targeted the years 1945-1965; since Greenberg’s book was published some 30 years ago, the design period has often stretched to include the late 1960s and early-to-mid- 1970s. Explaining the current popularity of midcentury modern home design leads us back to that 30-year stretch from 1945 to 1975 — a period of extraordinary economic growth, which produced an appetite for progressive design in everything from clothing to automobiles.
The furniture and decor introduced in the 1950s and 1960s were clean, sophisticated, and inclusive. Despite the passage of time, mid-century designs have remained a staple in interior architecture.
Midcentury style is unique in that it’s largely driven by innovative mass-produced furniture and accents. Perhaps no other period produced the same volume of household-name artists and designers as this era: George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and dozens more. Their singular furnishings and accents drive and define the look, from Marshmallow sofas to sculptural Egg and Womb chairs.
Mid-century modern furniture is easily identified by their straight, clean lines accented with smooth, curved angles. They rarely feature any fancy ornamentation or upholstery. This minimalist design commonly relies on wooden construction, but can also include fiberglass or metal. They usually only have one or two colors with no patterns. Clean lines and contemporary wood furniture are key to mid century modern style.
Sputnik chandeliers, Bubble lights, Arco floor lamps — classic midcentury lighting pumps up a room’s drama. Although its forms are sculptural enough to double as art, function remains paramount. Yet lighting fixtures from this era are so striking that they’ve become design motifs all their own. A sunburst mirror is an icon of this era. It is simply a must-have accessory that shines mid-century into your home. There are plenty of replicas or originals to be found online or in stores.
Warm and earthy colors, largely through the natural woods that predominate, are central to the midcentury palette. Yet it wouldn’t do for this look to come across as too quiet, and a few strokes of rich, saturated color give it strength and presence.
Here are some beautiful midcentury modern interior ideas that caught our eye.