There’s a slight possibility you may have noticed that we’re just a little obsessed with mid century furniture and design here at Layer. Functional and fresh: we simply can’t get enough. And we’re not the only ones.
Over the last decade the demand for mid century design has seen steady growth; and this trend isn’t showing any sign of slowing – quite the opposite in fact! However with the ever-increasing desire for the look it can be confusing as to what actually constitutes ‘mid century’ design. Fear not, Layer are here to help, here are 10 tips on what to look for when sourcing mid century furniture.
- Can the piece be dated? If so, was it made between 1933-1965? This timeframe is largely recognised as the mid century modern era. It may sound obvious, but if a piece can be dated during this timeframe then it can indeed be called mid century.
- Is the aesthetic fresh and futuristic? Many of the mid century designs came about as post-war homeowners wanted to look forwards. They hankered after modern and contemporary designs, worlds apart from their pre-war and wartime homes.
- Eames, Georg Jensen, Poul Henningsen, Hans Wegner, George Nelson, Noguchi. If a design you’re looking at has one of these names attached to it (or another significant mid century designer) then it can also be guaranteed that it is a mid century piece. The Eames chair, a Noguchi table, a George Nelson clock to provide a few examples.
- Is the wood real? If the piece is made from – or has elements of – wood, then a great way of telling if that particular piece of furniture is truly mid century is to find out if the wood is real. Woods that were regularly used to make mid century furniture were teak, walnut, oak and rosewood. The next point follows on nicely from this…
- Is there an element of bringing the outside world inside? Mid century furniture, architecture and artwork was all about creating harmony and flow between the natural and manmade world. Hockney’s landscape prints, the sunburst mirror, teak sideboards, marble kitchens – the list is endless!
- To complement these natural elements in the futuristic way that consumers were after, mid century pieces are often bold in colour. A bright blue knoll tulip armchair by Eero Saarinen, a hot pink Italian Chiavari chair, and a green Danish beech & wool armchair by Fritz Hansen are all examples of these types of pieces. When it comes to mid century furniture and design there aren’t many rules around colour – want to clash teal with hot pink, or earthy green with oxblood red? Go for it!
- As well as bright colours, graphic patterns are also very mid century modern. If you’re looking for fabrics and wallpapers, the things to look out for are a combination of many of the above points. Nature combined with manmade. Clashing colours. Fun graphics. Modern and contemporary. Lucienne Day was arguably one of the best mid century pattern designers of the time.
- Does it make a statement? Mid century pieces certainly make an impact. The egg chair, the Eames hang it all, the Hans Wegner peacock chair are all stand-out pieces of mid century furniture that create a statement in any room.
- Is it made to last? These designers championed good design above everything else. They created pieces that were made to last. Is the piece you’re looking at made from real wood? Has it survived the test of decades of love? If the answer is yes then it’s likely you’ve found a mid century gem.
- Is it both functional and beautiful? Charles Eames famously asked “Who ever said that pleasure wasn’t functional?” and this is a question that nicely sums up the mid century design period. Designers were fixated with creating good quality design that was also aesthetically pleasing.
To conclude, there are many elements to look for when sourcing mid century furniture, and as it was such a vibrant, exciting time for design there is no one definitive thing to look out for. But hopefully our above list can help to give some guidance to help you find your treasures. Is there anything we’ve missed? We’d love to hear your top tips too!
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