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Here' is an brief article regarding the history and elements of Mid-Century / Retro - Modern Furniture Design.

"The new retro modern "

The dramatic relevance of mid-century modern design continues to take a foremost role in today’s design inspiration. While there are many furniture pieces that claim to be “mid-century modern,” there are several defining characteristics that capture the essence of this era of modernism.

Clean lines

The most outstanding feature of mid-century modern furniture is the clean, lovely lines. As a sharp contrast to the furniture that pre-dated the 1950s, mid-century modern designers found beauty in lines that were sleek, uncluttered, and clean. Smooth lines epitomized the modernity these designers wished to emulate.

Mid-century modern furniture is easily spotted by its streamlined appearance. Using clean lines to create sculptural elements, the simplicity of the line design is what makes mid-century modern furniture continue to be relevant in today’s homes. Those who earn the credit of defining these streamlined lines are designers like Charles Eames, Euro Saarinen, Anne Jacobsen, and Miles van der Rone.

Prevalence of teak

Along with the infusion of man-made materials, including fiberglass, was a tremendous affection for teak wood in mid-century modern design. With the large Danish influence on modernism, the wood’s warmth and strength was embraced by a WWII-tattered world looking to find serenity. In addition, from a design perspective, teak provided an excellent backdrop and accent to the interesting colors and textures prevalent in mid-century modern design.

Creative use of colors and textures


Bursting onto the scenes of mid-century modern inspiration was a plethora of unique textures and colors. By emphasizing the contemporary outlook of the home, mid-century modern design wanted to forget the past, but rather emphasize the hope (of a peaceful world) that the future held. Thus, mid-century modern design saw a great plethora of colors and textures that were mixed together in great creativity.

A quintessential example of the mixture of colors and textures are presented in the two most popular mid-century modern furniture pieces today: the Eero Saarinen womb chairand the Eames fiberglass chairs. Seen today, as well as in modernism magazines from the mid-century, the yellow Knoll womb chair was beautiful paired with the red Herman Miller chair made of fiberglass. White furniture was also used frequently, as well as white accents, to create that clean, smooth look that tied together all the textures and colors.


Introduction of new materials

Turning the traditional woods on its head, mid-century modern design introduced the mass appeal of man-made materials that were not previously found in furniture. Plastic becomes an important element of mid-century modern furniture, including Bakelite on table tops, along with Plexiglas and Lucite. A classic example of the use of nontraditional materials is Eameseames era’ LAR Low-Low armchair made of fiberglass, as well as the tulip armchair by Saarinen.

The designers

The tremendous popularity of mid-century modern design in today’s interiors is indicative of the timeless appeal of great designers like Herman Miller, Eames, and Saarinen. 60 years later, people are paying top dollar for authentic, valuable mid-century modern furniture pieces.


Mid-century architecture was a further development of Frank Lloyd Wright’s principles of organic architecture combined with many elements reflected in the International and Bauhaus movements. Mid-century modernism, however, was much more organic in form and less formal than the International style.

Scandinavian designers and architects were very influential at this time, with a style characterized by simplicity, democratic design and natural shapes. Like many of Wright’s designs, Mid-Century architecture was frequently employed in residential structures with the goal of bringing modernism into America’s post-war suburbs. This style emphasized creating structures with ample windows and open floor-plans with the intention of opening up interior spaces and bringing the outdoors in."

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