Mid-Century, Danish Modern Furniture

Original Eames Cahir

The Danish Modern or Mid Century furniture movement period which extended from the mid 1940’s up through the mid 1960’s is known for clean, minimal lines, functionality and affordability.  Many of the designers of this era made it a requirement that their furniture be available to the masses rather than just the wealthy elite.  Furniture was not the only product of note to come out of the Mid-century Modern movement. For some reason, clocks, especially wall clocks, became a design force to be reckoned with. 

The father of midcentury is considered to be Kaare Klint, who, in 1924, was one of the founders of the furniture school at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. His belief was that form had been perfected and there was no need to reinvent it.  For example, the fundamental proportions of a chair had already been perfected so his aim was to modernize furniture by adding clean lines and new materials.  The result was a typically understated and efficient Danish furniture style that swept across the United States, Britain, Japan and Scandinavia.

In the U.S., Herman Miller Furniture produced plywood, fiberglass, and wire-mesh chairs for designers Charles and Ray Eames as well as the famous Marshmallow sofas for George Nelson. Knoll made insect-like wire chairs for Harry Bertoia and cool, white-and-red fiberglass-and-aluminum Tulip chairs for Eero Saarinen.

Japanese designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, a giant of Mid-century Modern, designed for both Knoll and Herman Miller. His three-piece wood and glass table from 1948 has been a mainstay of the Miller catalog for more than half a century.

In England, Ernest Race produced handsome sideboards and economical folding deck chairs in the Mid-century Modern style. Fellow Brit Robin Day worked with Hille Ltd. to create everything from convertible beds to tables and chairs. He is also credited with designing the first polypropylene stacking chair.

Scandinavian designer, Børge Mogensen designed chairs of elegant simplicity that harmonized form with functionality, while his Sleigh Chair was as whimsical as its name suggests. Arne Jacobsen’s Swan chair held its users in a palm-like embrace. Finn Juhl took a more sculptural approach for his wood-frame seats — even a Juhl coffee table looks like a work of art. As for Hans Wegner, he made a chair that was so highly regarded it was used by Nixon and Kennedy in a 1960 presidential debate and has since become known simply as The Chair.

Mid-century Danish is as popular now as ever and T.Y. Fine Furniture has had a Line of Modern pieces in our collections for a decade.  We appreciate the purity of furniture that is completely functional in everyday life but, unlike pieces made from petroleum products, is organic and will last generations.  We also carry contemporary leather recliners, one of which has elements of the famed Eames chair.

by Wes Miller

T.Y. Fine Furniture Odyssey Recliner (Eames influenced)

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