A Brief History of Mid-Century Modern Design

A Brief History of Mid-Century Modern Design

Don’t worry, we’re not going to bore you with a long essay, rather we’re going to explain where our current obsession with Mid-Century Modern design comes from. Our new collection is based around classic Polish designs from the 1960’s but the style itself had been around since the 1940’s and actually began on the West Coast of American before becoming a huge trend in Scandinavian.

366 furniture collection
366 Furniture | Rose & Grey

Art historian Cara Greenberg was the first to use the phrase ‘Mid-Century Modern’ when she published her now iconic book on the subject in 1984. She summed up the look of the Baby Boomers era that led from the post-war 1940’s up until the late 1960’s, when furniture design became all about clean, simple lines, geometric silhouettes and multi-purpose usage.

The Mid-Century style first appeared, however, on the West Coast of America in the form of new housing designed to rival the Bauhaus movement that was spreading through Europe at the time. Architects were focused on bringing modernity to post-war suburbs, building practical and contemporary family homes with open floor plans and large windows that created large indoor spaces and blurred the boundaries between inside and outside. Palm Springs in California is particularly noted for its Mid-Century Modern architecture, hosting an annual Modernism week that celebrates the era.

The natural progression from Modernist housing was a rise in mass-produced furniture that was functional, simple and elegant yet easy and affordable to manufacture. In America, Charles and Ray Eames produced design classics such as the DSR chair and the Lounge Chair that perfectly complemented the new Modernist homes whilst Harvey Probber pioneered sectional modular sofas that could fit into a variety of different spaces.

Over in Denmark, a similar reaction to Bauhaus was happening at the same time. Kaare Klint began the movement with his furniture designs based around the principles of clean and simple lines, but it was between the 1940’s and the 1960’s that Danish design thrived. Iconic designers such as Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen began to focus on form rather than simply function, and heralded a new era of simplistic furniture designs that originally focused on mass-produced chairs. At the same time, Poul Henningsen was designed a dramatic lighting collection that focused on spreading light without glare, resulting in statement designs with a focus on clean lines and sharp angles.

Moving over to the UK, brands such as Ercol and G-Plan focused mainly on wooden furniture, crafting streamlined coffee tables, cabinets and sideboards out of sturdy, hard-wearing woods. Their designs often featured thin, spindle-like legs that provided a huge point of difference from the heavy, cumbersome furniture that had previously been popular.

Meanwhile, behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, similar styles of furniture were emerging yet due to their location, they never became as well-known. The majority of Eastern European Mid-Century furniture designs were the result of creating pieces of furniture that would fit in small communist-era apartments and that were made to last. The beautiful attention to detail behind these pieces was a result of furniture design being one of the only acceptable creative outlets.

366 rocking chair
366 Furniture | Rose & Grey

366 Concept is a direct result of the former Soviet Bloc, resurrecting a classic design by Polish furniture designer Jozef Chierowski. At the time, Poland was a very poor country where the majority of people lived in small flats and mass-production had to be very affordable. The small size and simple design of the 366 Easy Chair were what led to its popularity in Poland in the Mid-Twentieth-Century – and is still one of its key selling points today. The chairs (and the rockers and two-seaters which 366 Concept has launched) are ideal for small rooms or for moving around as occasional furniture and extra seating for guests.

Shop our Mid-Century Modern Trend now

mid century collection

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