The Mid Century modern look is a firm favourite within current interior design trends. People are tapping into the look for its classic yet modern appeal. I was recently asked to do an AW14 trend presentation for Villa Nova fabrics during London design week using their latest collection Makela. As you can see from the mood board I did for the presentation, the new collection is popping with colour and in-your face bold prints. So very much up my street. For my scheme I chose the Quince colour way, its citrusy tang really adding some zing to the monochrome palette.
The new fabric collection instantly reminded me of midcentury modern Scandinavian prints, so cleverly marrying two key trends at once. Mid century modern as a design genre was between 1945-1970 and part of a movement that celebrated the end of the war and all the new and exciting advances in technologies and design. The clean lines, lighter woods and functionality championed by the likes of Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton, Ray and Charles Eames and our very own Robin and Lucienne Day were a world away from the dark, heavily decorated furnishings that went before. It had a verve and spirit about it, which we’ve gone crazy for right now, perhaps made all the more fashionable by stylized TV shows like Mad Men.
mid century modern living room.
It also fits in with the current lust for vintage, making it fun to hunt out originals at car boot sales, markets and online auctions to compliment the look. On the other end of the scale you can own an original piece of 21st century design and show it off in your home like a badge of honour. It’s a mark of good taste with its no frills and pared back look, it’s a very modern aesthetic. This look also has a very enduring quality. Its not a new trend but one that continues to gain momentum, I think in part because its tried and tested look that appeals to our post-recession sensibilities. Its not ostentatious but it does convey good taste and a smug knowing that you know your 21st century design.
image from Achica
Mid century Scandinavian design was very much about simple linear shapes in natural woods, celebrated the fluid form and natural grain of luxurious woods like teak. Look at Finn Juhl or Hans Wegner designs. While original pieces can be expensive, no need to go overboard, just a pair of beautiful chairs or a rosewood sideboard might be all you need to create that stunning focal point that will work well with whatever else you have in the room. Modular storage was another iconic piece of furniture to be seen, often as a room divider, and where better to show off your displays of 20th century design tomes and ceramics.
Modular storage with plenty of areas to display pottery and design books. Image from www.housetohome.com
There are plenty of reproductions and copies on the market and I’m not sure how I feel about them. In the Design Democracy I think its great that lust worthy design classics that cost gazillions can be made accessible to all. We just have to look at the now ubiquitous, but never the less iconic, Eames Eiffel chair, which huddles around every kitchen table inside every issue of Living Etc. The down side is the design of the piece won’t be exactly the same as the original, the materials used certainly won’t and it will be worth very little once you’ve bought it. The original which will always return on your investment and more, so if you have cash burning a hole in your pocket- then go for the original every time.
Charles Eames DSW chair
While the furniture designs were paired back the textiles were a riot! We see lots of creativity and craftmanship within the designs that appear screen printed silhouettes or hatched lino prints the designs are simple, modern and bright. This is the easiest way to get the look with contemporary textile designers like Orla Keiley, Mini moderns, and even good old Sanderson producing new designs in the spirit of the style.
The iconic midcentury style sideboard set against modern Orla Keily wallpaper. Image from Harlequin
Now what I would steer from is making your home look like a museum. Be inspired by the look and feel of the era. Get a few original gems, some reproduction pieces and then freshen up the whole look with some contemporary ideas. For some reason Tom Dixons designs seem to always blend well with this look or you could mash in other vintage styles.
Stylist Emily Chalmers vintage chintz meets midcentury style living room.
Living room of designer Petra Boase with vintage Ercol furniture
Finding original pieces is not the bargain it once was as this look has gained popularity over the years and is now a number one fashion trend in Interior Design. You can pick up Midcentury inspired pieces from the highstreet. John Lewis has particularly been a pioneer recently with their collaboration with Wayne Hemmingway to produce the G Plan Vintage collection.
G Plan sofa design by Wayne Hemmingway for John Lewis
Not just a look for vintage lovers the midcentury aesthetic continues to gain pace and inspire a flock of contemporary designers. Here is my pick of how to get the look: