INMO Style Guide: Mid-Century Modern vs Hollywood Regency Part Two, Mid-Century Modern-Of Mad Men and Women

INMO Style Guide: Mid-Century Modern vs Hollywood Regency Part Two, Mid-Century Modern-Of Mad Men and Women

The design is unmistakable, the era unforgettable. Mid-Century Modern describes architecture, furniture, and graphic design from the middle of the 20th century, spanning the early 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s and into the late 1960’s and early 70’s. The style conjures up images of cocktail parties, Frank Sinatra and well dressed advertising executives with questionable morals. Its uncomplicated, clean aesthetic arose from a desire to propel postwar America into the modern era. Mid-Century furniture’s style is unique in that it’s largely driven by innovative mass-produced furniture that strips down the design to create pieces that compliment a room without overpowering it. Bold patterns and organic materials serve as a punctuation for the overall aesthetic, tying together form and function that makes as much use of negative space as the space it fills. Designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller, Eero Saarinen, Edward Wormley, Paul McCobb, Paul Frankl and Isamu Noguchi defined this style with iconic, but accessible pieces. This look features organic, geometric and curvilinear shapes made from a mix of natural and manmade materials.

Mid-Century Modern’s emphasis on pared-down forms, contemporary patterns, natural materials and a seamless flow between indoors and out create a medley of function, comfort and style. In its earliest incarnation, Mid-Century design was about establishing an aesthetic that expressed the indifference of America after the war, as we entered the atomic age of the middle class. Mid-Century Modern grew in America based on earlier styles like Bauhaus, and rose to prominence after the Second World War due in part to an expansion of cities and suburbanization. Technological advances led to production and development of a range of new materials making it possible to explore new textures and effects, colors and even new forms through molded plastics with a faster production rate and lower cost. By the end of the 1970’s and into the early 80’s, interior design styles pressed forward to a new wave, leaving the Mid-Century movement to a niche group of design enthusiasts. By the 1990’s, however, the style celebrated a resurgence, as iconic Mid-Century companies such as Knoll and Herman Miller began to reissue their collections to meet the increasing demand of collectors. With the break out hit of the popular AMC series, Mad Men and the rise of the cocktail culture in the late aughts, Mid-Century has become more popular than ever. The show’s reputation for period accuracy extended to the sets, which were specifically designed to reflect the East Coast interiors of the 1960s. The movement shows no signs of slowing; the Library of Congress organized an expansive exhibition devoted to the work of Charles and Ray Eames in six major cities making Eames a household name around the globe. MoMA also exhibited a selection of more than 100 midcentury objects from its design collection, and Modernism Week is celebrating more than a decade of events centered around Mid-Century architecture and design in the greater Palm Springs area.

Is Mid-Century the right look for your home? Check out our inventory of vintage Mid-Century furniture. We get new pieces each week, so be sure to check back often. In our next installment, we’ll explore Mid-Century’s opulent counterpart of the era, Hollywood Regency, along with the iconic designers that helped elevate the style to remarkable heights.

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