Mid-Century Modern furniture is characterized by its clean lines, gentle curves, and organic shapes. This style originated mid-20th century—hence its name— but thanks to its elegant simplicity and timeless aesthetic, Mid-Century Modern furniture is still highly popular in contemporary interior design.
Mid-Century Modern, or MCM, is a design philosophy that emerged in the mid 20th century. It blends smooth designs with highly varied textures, materials, and colors.
Notice how the smooth curves of the wooden lounge chair and dining table legs meld seemlessly with the black leather sofa, white plastic chairs, blue cushions and colorful rug. This type of diversity in material, color, and texture is a hallmark of mid-century design.
In today’s market, you may also see Mid-Century Modern furniture labelled “MCM” for short. Some of the characteristics that define this style are:
While there is some debate over the exact year of origin, most can agree that this style dates back to the mid-1930’s through to the mid-1960’s. However, it wasn’t until 1983 that the descriptor “Mid-Century Modern” became a household phrase.
Art historian and writer, Cara Greenberg, coined the term with the title of her book, Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s. Fast forward over 60 years, Mid-Century Modern is now widely recognized as a term and significant design movement by the general public, museums, and scholars.
As for the style itself, MCM was highly influenced by Danish Modernism and the German style/school of design, Bauhaus. With the changes that World War II brought to Germany, America suddenly found itself with immigrants that were both trained and practiced in this style. This combined with the baby boom and the urgent need for housing with modern furniture birthed a new era of technological advances and exploration of new material in design.
Materials like molded plywood, plastic, glass, metal, and fiberglass were suddenly commonplace. Many becoming the basis for iconic furniture designs by designers, such as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Herman Miller, Arne Jacobsen, and Eero Saarinen—just to name a few.
With both styles exploding onto the interior design scene after World War II, “modern” in both names, and their popularity in today’s market, there are some definite similarities between Mid-Century Modern and Modern Industrial. However, there are also some key differences that you should note.
When built by master craftsmen like the ones we work with at Vermont Woods Studios, both mid-century and modern industrial style furniture are built to last for generations.
Mid-Century design philosophy is well known for its use of vibrant colors—often embracing shades like mustard yellow, aqua, tangerine, olive green, and fire engine red. However, these attention grabbers can’t do it alone. Tones of gray, brown, and white are needed to ground the design, contrast any colorful accents, and cultivate MCM’s signature style.
One simple way that Mid-Century interior design incorporates earthier shades is with wood furniture and finishings. Not only can wood help strike the perfect balance in a room, but wooden Mid-Century Modern furniture is available in an array of hardwoods that each offer their own style and benefits.
All of the wood furniture at Vermont Woods Studios is handcrafted in Vermont and guaranteed for life. Our craftspeople have several variations on classic mid-century style.
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