Alexander Giray’s path to become a designer was not a conventional one, but was driven by both passion for mid-century design and determination.
Mid-Century Modern Furniture
In this section you will find mid-century modern furniture that we think are within the most representative of the mid-century modern style. Some of these mid modern furniture made the history of modern design, and are still in production, others are less known but equally iconic.
We believe that good furniture design should follow function, and not by coincidence this was the pillar for some of the most representative designers of the 20th century as Charles and Ray Eames or Eero Saarinen.
Overall, we hope to show why we believe everyone should invest in well designed mid-century furniture, as they would for a piece of art.
Modern Mailbox for MidCenturyHome
When people talk about “mid-century modern” it is often hard to disentangle it from a whole host of styles which emerged around the same period and displayed many of the same aesthetic elements.
As such, it is worth trying to isolate some of the things that distinguish the variations. And what better way than through a list of the chairs that defined them.
Arne Jacobsen studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen where he acquired a combination of practical and artistic training.
This unique combination enabled Jacobsen to design buildings, interiors and many different types of designs that beautifully balanced form and function.
From 1945 onwards, Jacobsen also designed furniture for mass-production. The Ant (1951) and the Series 7 chairs (1955) were…
The celebrated Danish architect and furniture designer Poul Kjaerholm’s elegant and rational furniture designs, such as the PK22 chair (1956) and the Hammock PK24 chaise Iongue (1965), were conceived within the Modernist idiom, they managed to avoid the alienating hard-edged aesthetic so common to the work of the Modern Movement.
The Charles and Ray Eames Dining Armchair Rod, or Eames DAR for short, was a revolutionary piece of design that changed ideas about furniture during the post World War-II era and beyond. The design came from the brilliant mind of Charles Eames when entering the DAR design in 1948 for a competition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art for low-cost furniture design. This wonderful design won second prize.
In 1948 Charles Eames participated in the International ‘Low-Cost Furniture’ competition organized by the Museum of Modern Arts with the design of La Chaise chair which was inspired by the sculpture ‘Floating figure’ created by the French artist Gaston Lachaise.
The organic design is voluptuous with soft curves giving pleasure to the senses. It is large but in all the right places.
Taking the beautiful and natural form of a tulip, Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chair had more complex issues to deal with on its path into mass production. It was not simply a fact of producing this beautiful shape and colour to imitate nature, but also considering bigger design issues in its construction.
Harry Bertoia had an unique and distinctive approach to design. For him there wasn’t a distinction between sculptures and furniture. As sculptors mould materials to ‘entrap’ the final work of art, so Bertoia moulded his seats to make space and air part of them: creating a floating effect. The Diamond Chair is probably the highest example of this kind of approach to design.
Charles an Ray Eames are considered one of the most influential contributors to pioneering Mid-century design. Their work extended not only in furniture but film, architecture and exhibition design as well.
Charles Eames, at the start of his career, took the early two-dimensional design of molding plywood further than Alvar Aalto’s and created three-dimensional contour molded plywood.
In 1938, a trio of designers in Argentina called the Austral group, presented the BKF chair, originally named Sillon BKF after it’s three creators, namely Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy.
The rigid steel-welded frame is economical due to it’s spare linear structure and is reminiscent of an asteroid trajectory.
Do you want to stand out from conventional chair designs? Are you willing to make a bold statement with furniture that speaks volume and have withstood the test of time? Mid-century furniture design is an exhibition of individual expression of freedom and creativity.
The Zanuso Lady chair was designed by Italian architect and designer Marco Zanuso in 1951, representing a turning point in the realm of upholstered furniture of the early fifties.
The Alvar Aalto 400 Tank armchair sets itself immediately apart from the previous designs of the architect; usually light in weight. However, with the 400, Aalto decided to emphasise mass and the appearance of solidity.
He wanted to make a clear statement about the actual range of physical possibilities that his laminated wooden furniture were capable of dealing with.
The mid-century modern period is also called ‘the atomic age’. Space adventures and technology innovations inspired many well-known designers to create pieces -as the George Nelson Atomic Ball Clock- to celebrate the incredible achievements of the period.
Many of those pieces became icons of mid-century modern design that we still celebrate today.
The combination of geometric or organic forms with upholstered colourful cushions, has something magic that attracts our attention. Within many materials and colors, however, we have a real passion for the wood and blue/turquoise contrast; somehow it always works very well. Today we decided to show you five Mid-century Modern seats with upholstered blue cushions to prove that, doesn’t matter the shape, this combination always works!
We selected five seating areas from iconic mid-century modern houses, to make you dream a bit or to get inspiration from. Check the notes for more details.
Mid century glassware is special, the sculptural and organic forms create an amazing effect capturing the light and decorating the room all alone. It often had a sculptural look, even if designed for a daily-use as table-wares, paperweights, platters and so on.
From the late 20s and across all mid century, designers began to replace craftsmen becoming real glass artists while manufacturers created series of functional
Mid-century modern houses focused on two spaces: living rooms and kitchens.
Today we have selected six mid-century kitchens that we like and, we hope, will inspire or just make you dream a bit.
Dark wooden -sometimes covered by bright colours like turquoise or light yellow- cabinets, together with big windows and polished countertops and floors create those contrasts that we like
In 2014 the eclectic furniture designer Jamie Hayon re-imagined one of the rooms of the first ever design hotel in history: the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, designed by Arne Jacobsen.
The remodelling was made in collaboration with the Danish brand Fritz Hansen(which manufactures most of Hayon’s iconic pieces) to celebrate Jacobsen’s Drop Chair 50th birthday.
2014 was a prolific year for 50s lamps re-editions. Below, we selected some of our favourite updates. Enjoy!
The post-WWII period was a new starting point for many people. The Americans embraced the decade of optimism by following the new trend of buying new objects to replace the old ones which brought bad memories of the difficult period.
Isamu Noguchi was a sculptor-designer with a predilection for the language of biomorphism that is clearly represented in the Freeform Sofa designed in 1946.
The sculptural background hugely influenced his works as furniture designer as it is also clear with the Freeform that looks as made of two large stones even with a dynamic and light appearance.
Eero Saarinen is internationally recognized as one of the American modernist designers that most of all contributed to reinvent the domestic and industrial design and spaces. Not only Saarinen was known and appreciated for his architectural works but he had a fundamental role within the furniture designs of the 1940s.
Occasionally, you meet someone that made of preservation and love for mid-century design his life and job: David Skelley is one of them.
David is a passionate collector of mid-century modern design that over 30 years ago opened a beautiful store in San Diego, to turn his passion into a business: Boomerang For Modern.
The use of contrasting materials as rope, painted and chrome-plated steel, sheepskin and a linen-covered cushion to design the Halyard Chair have not precedents in the mid century modern design.
Hans Wegner goal while designing this chair was not to prove the textural interplay of the materials used but his ability to create practical and innovative furniture in any other material than wood.
We all love mid-century design but some of you probably think that mid-century furniture is overpriced.
If you can’t really afford to buy expensive design pieces but like to have good-looking furniture, which is going to stay in vogue for some time, we’re sure that you’ve been to IKEA at least once. The good thing about IKEA is that it deliberately takes its inspiration from the best mid-century modern – usually Scandinavian – design.
The Ej Corona Chair has been designed by the Danish architect Poul Volther in 1961 and symbolizes the change that the Scandinavian mid century modern furniture industry was going to face in the 60s, even though it represented important ideological and manufacturing principles of the previous decade.
Initially made as a one-off prototype design, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman quickly became fashionable and well-liked by a wider public after the design was improved and eventually put into production. It was seen as a 20th-century rebirth of the old English Club Chair.
The original Swan chair was designed by Arne Jacobsen as part of a project for the Radisson’s Royal Hotel in Copenhagen that also included the Egg chair. Arne Jacobsen’s design consisted of a curved hard plastic seat on a polished aluminium stand.
The aluminium swiveling base was not part of the original design for the Swan chair. It previously had a set of cross-shaped legs made from laminated beech wood.
Because of its unique design, the Atomic Clock became one of the most recognizable pieces of the mid-century design. Its shape reminds of an atom’s molecular structure, resembling the modern age and technology innovations. The missing numbers may also indicate the representation of time as a metaphysical state in which it passes without reference.
Reading one of my magazine today I spotted an amazing lamp that looked like had an interesting story. I decided to make some research about it and it turned out to be -unexpectedly- a piece of mid century modern Spanish design!
The lamp is called TMM and is a floor lamp designed by Miguel Mila’ in 1962.
In 1941, the New York Museum of Modern Art opened a design competition named: ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’. The competition’s main goal was to find new ideas which were aimed at improving the mid-century interiors. Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen together achieved two 1st positions within the furniture category.
Even though I am used to show mid century modern houses decorated with natural textures and materials, the typical 50s and 60s houses often had rich and bold colours that helped to highlight, unify and divide the inner spaces.
The monotonous palette of the war period interiors were replaced by dazzling tints during the 50s.
Even though not part of the mid-century modern period, the Dutch designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld was within the ones that most influenced the aesthetic of the postwar modernism -or mid century modern- period; that is why I decided to dedicate a post to one of his iconic works.
Last week I published the first part of The 10 Best Mid Century Modern Chairs and today I will complete the list with other five amazing and iconic mid century modern chairs. Be sure to read the post until the end…there’s a surprise.
The Eero Saarinen Womb Chair.
We all admire them, desire them, dream about them but what do we really know about the most iconic mid century modern chairs ever?
Today I will start to answer to this question with the first of two posts about 10 of the best chairs ever designed during the mid century period.
After writing about the Antony Chair, today I investigated a bit about another icon of mid-century modern: the Jean Prouve Compass Desk.
Jean Prouve considered himself a constructeur rather than an architect, designer or artist due to his training as blacksmith and the involvement in the manufacturing process of the products he designed.
Jean Prouve’ was one of the most important French -and international- designers and architects of the twentieth century.
He started his career as metal worker in Nancy and craftsmanship always had a preeminent role in all his projects.
In 1931 he opened his workshop -the Ateliers Jean Prouve’-
Our last short visit to London for the Design Festival was extremely interesting and rich with nice designs and furniture. One of our discoveries was the Rocket Gallery.
Although the current exhibition is about post-war Dutch design, we spotted few contemporary pieces with a clear Mid-century inspiration: we found out to be reissues of Jens Risom’s 50s and 60s designs.
The Isamu Noguchi Akari lamp -inspired by the traditional Japanese paper lanterns- is one of the design icons of the last century.
To be completely honest with you, before starting Mid Century Home I never heard of Isamu Noguchi and his works…but from the first moment I saw his objects and sculptures, I started to love them 🙂
The Achille Castiglioni Arco floor lamp has been one of my favorite lamps ever and -after the Achille Castiglioni Biography and the post about the Toio lamp- today I decided to finally write about it.
The Achille Castiglioni Arco floor lamp has been inspired by a common object: a street lamp.
The Isamu Noguchi coffee table is the today’s iconic mid century object. I’m lucky to see it every day from real -it’s in the hall of my office- and I can say to know it quite well 🙂
Who Isamu Noguchi was? A Short Biography.
Since its launch in 1948, the Womb Chair designed by Eero Saarinen has been always in production and definitely is one of the most known pieces of mid century furniture ever.
The shape of the Womb chair is the result of Saarinen’s experiments with organic shell-type seats for furniture design. Saarinen started his experiment with Charles Eames during the ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’ competition in 1941 during which they presented the ‘Conversation, Relaxation and Lounging’ trio.
Within the many famous Italian mid-century modern designs, the Achille Castiglioni Toio Lamp has undoubtedly a primary role.
Even though Achille was the most known of the Castiglioni brothers, he worked closely with his older brother Pier Giacomo to many projects until his premature death in 1968; both concentrating on the same task, rather than dividing up the work.
Since a while I had the idea to build a page that was a good starting point for the new readers and a specific archive for posts about the iconic objects that made the mid-century design’s history.
Posts like the Aalto’s Savoy vase or the Jacobsen’s Egg chair -to mention a couple of them- were really appreciated by you guys so,..
After the Wire Chair and the Eames Screen, today I want to put the spot on another revolutionary product designed by Charles and Ray Eames: The Eames Storage Unit. Probably one of the most desired mid-century modern furniture by folks like us. 😉
The ESU was born to be a flexible and innovative product, it was the result of different assembled parts available in many combinations and materials.
I’m a curious person, I like to ‘investigate’ and learn as much as possible about what I like: especially about Mid-Century design.
Few days ago I was thinking which object should have I choose for the today post. I wanted to write about something that is usually not mentioned within the most famous works of Charles and Ray Eames but that had an interesting story anyway.
Choosing the right flowers is important, but what about the vase? During the Mid-Century millions of different vases were designed, but probably the most iconic one -since it was born- is the Aalto’s Savoy vase designed in 1936.
The main characteristic of the Scandinavian design is the organic form of furniture and objects and, as I already wrote in
If I think to Mid-Century, I can not avoid to think to the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.
Probably one of the most famous chairs ever designed during the Mid-Century, the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair takes its name from the similarity with a broken eggshell and because of its ‘wrapping’ shape it’s considered the modern version of the Georgian wing armchair.
The Charles Eames Wire Chair is an iconic seat with sculptural qualities difficult to find in those years. Even though its design recalls previous fibreglass chairs, the Wire Chair was manufactured using a very different technology.
The rim of the chair is a double light-gauge wire without cross-weaving on the external borders, this ‘tricks’ made…