The conventional wisdom about how fashions come and go doesn’t always work. Just as the Beatles made fools of those who rejected them because rock music was “on its way out” in 1962, the fashion for mid-century modernist furniture has for twenty years stubbornly refused to give way to the next big thing. The exposure of the style on the TV show Mad Men has certainly helped keep it at the forefront, but is that really the explanation? You could also argue that our love for mid-century modernism helped make the show a success.
The original period of mid-century modernism is usually taken as about 1945-1965, although the label was coined in 1984 by Cara Greenberg. Influenced by earlier forms of modernism, especially the Bauhaus, it reflected a post-war desire for no-nonsense simplicity that could nevertheless by intriguing and even playful.Mid-century modernism covers a wide spectrum, but it’s especially associated with furniture and interior design. It flourished both in the US and Europe, especially Denmark — many leading names on the list of Danish furniture designers, such as Hans J Wegner, are associated with the movement.
The trend ran its course and developed into new styles, but from the 1990s collectors began seeking out classics by designers like Eames, Wegner, Nelson and Noguchi, and new pieces in a mid-century style began appearing. These ranged from reissues by original companies like Herman Miller to cheap knock-offs, but new, creative designers also started working in the style. A range of the better examples is available on The Kairos Collective website.
By now, the mid-century modernism craze should have died down and been replaced by some other classic trend, but we seem to be more in love with the period than ever. Stylenest explains the obsession with mid-century furniture as the attraction of simple functionality and an uncluttered environment in an overloaded world. Many design experts also emphasise the simplicity of the style as its great appeal. Interior designer Miles Redd points out that “Simplicity is universal and understood by everybody,” while Jill Singer of the magazine Sight Unseen agrees that “Its beautiful materials and classic simple shapes can seem timeless.”
Besides its timelessness, mid-century modernism is versatile. While sharing a common ethos and look, the various designers, classic and new, have approached it in a wide range of ways, and you can always find something new on offer from The Kairos Collective. And there’s no need to be “purist” — mid-century modernist furniture can be mixed and matched with many other styles, as here where The Evening Standard highlights modernist furniture to complete a boudoir. Interior designer Elizabeth Roth advises us to “Take the time to find the best available pieces with the philosophy that over time, quality will always prove to have lasting value, aesthetic and otherwise.” With this approach, there seems no reason why our love affair with mid-century modernism need ever end.
Brough to you in association with Kairos Collective