Mid-century modern design has continued to be popular in-home decor, with its minimalist style appealing to many people worldwide.
If there's one way to really capture the design essence of this period, it's through furniture. But with so many furniture options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
In this article, we'll explore the essential pieces of mid-century modern furniture that every design-savvy individual should consider for their home. Whether you're looking to revamp an entire room or just add a touch of this iconic style, we've got you covered.
1. A Super Comfy Lounge Chair and Ottoman
Why? Because of the Eames Lounge Chair. Even though it came out decades ago, it remains a statement piece that still adorns many homes today.
The lounger chair and ottoman were introduced in 1956 and underwent some changes over the years, like the materials used to create the shell and some minor tweaks to make it comfier. But the look itself remains more or less the same.
Behind this masterpiece are Charles and Ray Eames, the wife-and-husband team who created some of the most iconic designs - architecture, furniture, and more - of the 20th century. The lounge chair is possibly one of their most defining and lasting contributions to the furniture-making industry.
So, what's the anatomy of an MCM lounge chair and ottoman?
- One is the sleek design. The chair is cushioned but still looks pretty compact because of the wooden shells, just like the Eames Lounge Chair.
- The legs are not bulky, creating a seamless look on your floors and allowing visual continuity.
- An MCM chair is all about comfort. Unlike ornate Baroque chairs that really go all out on the details (so, you see those first before anything else), you can tell from the get-go that a chair is designed for a comfortable seating experience. This is a true Mid-Century Modern style feature, function over form.
2. A Storage Piece with Sleek and Clean Lines
George Nelson is considered one of the most influential modernist designers. One of his well-known creations is the basic cabinet series, which is a modular storage system consisting of various cabinet designs that have a minimalist and straightforward look.
These cabinets are usually made from wood, with metal knobs and legs. They are also incredibly versatile, fitting in just about any space, may it be at the office or at home, in the bedroom or dining room.
If you're looking for a George Nelson MCM-inspired storage piece, here are some of the things to look for:
- Go for a piece of furniture (a credenza, buffet, or dresser) that has a very simple and modern design. The more organic, the better.
- You'd want that piece to have the most flexible design. Even if you're buying it for your bedroom, also think about how it may look in your living room. This is one way to check a piece's versatility.
- The George Nelson modular storage pieces may or may not have legs. But it can help when your unit does. Raised furniture, as in pieces with thin, tapered, or hairpin legs, was quite common at that time. Having this feature on furniture is one way to really showcase the Mid-Century Modern Design in your space.
- Choose pieces that highlight the natural. If it's made of wood, go for those that emphasize wood grains, coupled with very subtle embellishments like brass handles.
3. A Statement Furniture with Bold Colors
The Mid-Century Modern period was also a time of experimentation: new materials and construction methods. You can see this in Arne Jacobsen's Egg Chair, which first came out as a hard foam shell covered with upholstery or the Eamses' shell chairs originally made of fiberglass and bent wire.
Perhaps part of this experimentation was using bold colors alongside more natural ones. So, in a way, mid-century colors are a fusion of deep neutrals (also more subtle ones) and vibrant pops of saturated hues—as in mustard yellow, bold red, teal, olive green, and burnt orange, coupled with rust, dark brown, and navy blue and other neutrals.
To incorporate statement pieces with bold colors in your space, it can be:
- A Florence Knoll-inspired sofa (or the original one if you want), a modern sofa with a clean and geometric shape, in yellow, orange, or lime upholstery
- The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, or a version of it. Because of its organic shape that cuts lines and angles, it can definitely stand out in your space, more so if you choose one with a bold color
- Simple side tables with color accents
4. Chairs, Chairs, Chairs
Furniture design really thrived in the Mid-20th Century, particularly in the realm of chairs and seating. It's quite challenging to encapsulate every design there ever was at the time. But there are designs that really stand out from the rest, like, again, the Eames Lounge Chair or the Egg Chair.
But there are many more designs, which, if you can get the actual designer pieces or versions of them, can really elevate the Mid-Century aesthetics of your space. And here are some of these noteworthy pieces:
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona® Chair
- Eero Saarinen's Tulip Chair
- Marcel Breuer's Cesca Chair
- Hans Wegner's Wishbone Chair, also known as the CH24 chair or Y chair
- Eames' Molded Chair
- Pierre Jeanneret's Chandigarh Armchair
5. A Simple, Functional Dining Table
Mid-Century Modern Tables typically showcase a captivating blend of simplicity and innovation, effortlessly marrying organic and man-made elements to create a futuristic vintage allure. These tables embody geometric shapes through sleek lines, rounded corners, beveled edges, and tapered legs.
These are the defining characteristics of a mid-century modern table:
- Simple and uncluttered design, often featuring geometric shapes and tapered legs
- Designed to be stylish and functional, often incorporating "hidden" features like built-in storage or expandable surface
- Incorporate a blend of both natural and man-made materials, including wood, metal, glass, and plastic, Popular choices of wood at the time include the American black walnut, rosewood, and teak.
Here are some notable examples of Mid-Century tables:
- Charles and Ray Eames' 1675 Round Table
- Eero Saarinen's Round Pedestal Table
- Isamu Noguchi's Noguchi Coffee Table
- George Nelson's X-Leg Table
6. A Minimalist Wooden Bed Frame
Large furniture can easily change the tone of a room. So, if you want to extend the MCM theme all the way to your bedroom, the first piece you need to start with is the bed frame.
Mid-century modern often features a blend of organic materials, sleek curves, and minimalist design. The straightforward design is a reflection of how people from different classes lived at the time, with many embracing a more natural, genuine, and contemporary lifestyle.
Mid-century modern bed frames typically share several common features, including tapered or angled legs, bare or tufted headboards, and wood frames. They have a simple and chic appearance, often evoking a Scandinavian-style vibe.
Shop Mid-Century Modern Furniture at T.Y. Fine Furniture
With the incredible versatility of mid-century modern furniture, the shopping options are endless. You can easily score your dream mid-century piece at your local furniture retailer.
But for a truly extraordinary experience, visit T.Y. Fine Furniture. Our showroom has an array of Mid-Century furniture, from storage and tables to lounge chairs and bed frames.
All of our furniture designs are sleek and minimalist, prioritizing function over form. But we have two collections dedicated to Mid-Century aesthetics, these are the Apollo Collection and the Modern Collection. Explore them today online or in-store!