Something Old, Something New

Mid-century design is making a comeback, and it’s here to stay.

By Zimkita Sidumo
Modern Midcentury ©Unsplash
Modern Midcentury ©Unsplash

Mid-century modern is more than an interior design style, it encompasses architecture, graphic and product design.  It’s an American design movement.  This movement came off the back of World War II in the middle of the 20th century, circa 1950s.  We can think of mid-century modern design as being born out of necessity than beauty because the focus had been on the practicality and usefulness of furniture pieces rather than their decorative appeal.  It’s a style aesthetic that’s certainly more minimalist than maximalist, surely this all makes sense during a time when people are trying to recover from war and start anew into a modern world.

A shift from traditional design, the focus on functionality shone through in simple silhouettes with clean lines and a lot of use of rich teak wood in furniture pieces.  But by no means did simple designs translate to boring.  Without decorating nor embellishing the designs, the attractiveness lay in odd shaped coffee tables, for example, and curves in chairs…iconic Eames Lounge Chair and the Tulip Chair.  Mid-century modern design generally incorporates organic materials such as wood and combines it with synthetic manmade elements such as vinyl fabric

Mid-century design has always been around and it’s a matter of it becoming popular again with each nostalgic generation, and with it being innately nature centric it makes sense for us to have gravitated back to it with the world going green and greenery in our lifestyles playing such an important part in our nowadays living.  I’m sure we’ve all noticed the obsession with plants and not just having a decorative pot plant but actually building live walls in our interiors.  Mid-century design is adored for bringing the outdoors indoors considering its introduction of big windows in architecture and more open plan interiors. 

Natural hues with pops of colour is what makes mid-century modern décor inviting, it’s warmer than the grey, black and white palette of modern design and as we spend more and more time our homes we long for that inviting warmth and comfort even though ironically mid-century modern design in minimalist by nature.  The soft furniture lines also add to this warm comfort and remains functional at its core.  We require more and more multifunctional spaces in our interiors and what more than a functional design aesthetic to assist us to achieve that.

In contemporary design we’ve incorporated a lot of curves in furniture design and evolved the typically small scale of mid-century furniture to fit our current living needs.  One should also select a couple pieces to incorporate into their design to bring in elements of mid-century style into the space, you don’t need to do an entire overhaul of all your furniture.  The drinks trolley for example is a nod to this era, using a sideboard a tv unit, a bed with rounded edges.  You could have some plants in plant stands or mount a few on your wall, bringing in burnt oranges, mustard, greens into your colour palette are ways of borrowing from mid-century design without it being a literal translation.

As with most trends and popularity it starts to fade at some point as the new ‘it’ thing comes along.  We’ll pull away from mid-century design as the 70s design gains more and more popularity but it’s here to stay, it’s a design icon.  Who would ever get rid of their Eames Lounge Chair.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and don’t miss out on regular updates from the YourLuxury Africa team on all things luxurious, beautiful and inspiring.