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22 June 2011

History Brush Up on Mid-Century Modern Design

Last week, Tara and I went to Moderne Antiques to meet with the owner, John, to discuss our design future with him over a glass of wine, Mediterranean appetizers and ice-cream.  John is an extremely outgoing and friendly character chock-full of Mid-Century Modern facts.  I found myself lost a couple of times during our conversations due to my lack of knowledge on the subject.  Consequently, I have developed a curiosity for the history and design of Mid-Century Modern and have spent a good chunk of my day sifting through various articles and photos.

John, owner of, playing with Tara's pup. 

Brief history: Mid-Century Modern design, noted for its well-designed, highly-functional and mass-produced furniture, surfaced after World-War II and continued into the mid-60s (and is currently making a comeback).  Designers of this era made it a point to create products that were affordable to the average family while focusing on using minimal materials and keeping appropriate strength/structure.  They used materials such as steel, molded plywood and acrylics/plastics to create their visually light masterpieces.

I won’t bore you with too many historical facts but here are some photos that caught my attention:

Simply known as "The Chair", designed by Hans Wegner (Danish), was used by Nixon and Kennedy in a 1960 presidential debate. 

Why use four legs? Eero Saarinen (Finnish-American) came up with this one piece unit known as the “Tulip” chair. It was later popularized by its appearance on Star Trek in the mid 60's.

Charles and Ray Eames (American), two of the most notorious designers of the century, pioneered technologies such as the fiberglass, plastic resin chairs and the wire mesh chairs that we still see all over the place today.

The Eames fiberglass rocking chairs were created in the 1950's.  These are still being produced using the original presses from the 50's to mold the chairs in order to maintain their original look.

The wire mesh chair, introduced by Eames in 1951, still remains as popular today as it was 60 years ago. 

To be continued...

-Amy B.


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