Design, Defined | Midcentury Modern
At the end of World War II, troops returned home, and husbands and wives found themselves in need of rapid access to housing. This sudden surge caused a demand for simple, multi-functional home and furniture designs. Design pieces encapsulated the light, airy feeling of post-war optimism, and were quickly embraced. Today, those same clean designs from 1939-1965 are still fashionable in 2018 homes.
Several notable midcentury designers, including Ray and Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Hans Wegner, created living room, dining room, and office furniture pieces that have become sought-after classics. Their aesthetic can be captured with just a few carefully placed statement pieces in your home.
Living Room: Eames Style
A quick online search of midcentury modern design will no doubt direct you to the husband and wife design team of Charles and Ray Eames. They combined art with science, creating sleekly curved pieces to provide ultimate comfort while capturing a fresh style which is still revered more than 60 years later.
The classic Eames chair was designed by the duo for the purpose of comfortably watching television in the 1950s. While an original chair comes with a hefty price tag, choosing a chair with a sleek design and interesting texture will help your living room look midcentury chic. Opt for seating with a simple wood base and plush, colorful padding.
These visually appealing chairs pair perfectly with a coffee table constructed from smooth wood with a crystal-clear glass top. A simple centerpiece will enhance the clean lines in the room. Furniture focused on functional simplicity, flowing curves or geometric shapes, as well as a variety of textures, are key to successfully capturing the style.
Dining Room: Saarinen Style
A good friend of the Eames team, fellow designer and architect Eero Saarinen is known for both his furnishings and for designing famous structures such as St. Louis, Missouri’s Gateway Arch, and the main terminal of Dulles International Airport. Saarinen began designing furnishings and fixtures at a young age, and over the years created some of the most recognizable furniture from the midcentury modern period, including the “womb” chair, and the “tulip” table and chair set.
Saarinen’s tulip table was created to eliminate the visual clutter and knee-bumping properties of the standard four-legged dining table. It was designed as a sleek, industriallooking pedestal table, and tulip chairs soon followed to complement the look. Saarinen took great pride in his work, building hundreds of models to obtain the table’s perfect curve and the right line to fit the human body. Tulip-style tables can be found to fit a conservative or extravagant price range, and will accent virtually any living space and decor style.
Saarinen is known for a wide variety of chair styles. The famous “womb” chair, often accompanied by a coordinating ottoman, is curved to comfortably fit the human body— hence the name. He also created the “70 series” seating collection for office chairs. In every case, he combined modern materials with organic shapes, and his work is widely emulated in modern side chairs and arm chairs. The light, streamlined design of Saarinen’s chairs allows for the fostering of an open and welcoming environment within your home, and provides an uncluttered and versatile setting for any dining room.
For a style that looks fun and effortless, try setting your table and chairs on a brightly colored area rug, or paint an accent wall with a brilliant color to add contrast. Mix it up by pairing a simple side chair with a plush arm chair to provide a pleasing difference in texture and design. To really make a statement, finish the room with an eye-catching midcentury Sputnik chandelier, and you are ready to enjoy a night of entertaining!
Office: Wegner Style
Hans Wegner influenced in the way furniture was viewed in the 1950s and 1960s with the concept of using minimalistic designs to highlight a natural softness, as well as the ability to fit and support the human body. Wegner is known as “the Master of the Chair” and designed over 500 styles for virtually every style and preference.
Wegner’s famous chairs include names such as “wishbone,” “peacock,” “valet,” “circle,” “shell,” “wing,” “oculus,” and many more. These chairs encompass a broad category, with styles and prices to fit a variety of lifestyles. More than just a place to “sit a spell” these midcentury chairs transform an ordinary area into a space with style, class and comfort. An office can easily integrate more than one of these space-efficient styles for additional interest. Polish your office design with the soft lighting of a midcentury modern desk, floor, or wall lamp. A vibrant area rug with eye-catching geometric designs is also an easy way to provide a warm atmosphere, as well as awaken creativity.
Whether you design your entire home with classic midcentury furniture from Eames, Saarinen, and Wegner in mind, or carefully choose a few key pieces to highlight, you are investing in the culture of an earlier age. The smooth, timeless designs are built to enhance any home with a functionality which will never be outdated.