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  • Desert Art Guide

Mid Century Modern Home Design

Mid-century interior design marks an architectural and artistic era that spanned from the 1930s to the 1960s. It also forms part of the ultimate aesthetic cleanse, modern design. Modernism took shape as a reaction to the overly ornate and formal trends of the 1800s. By the 1930s, there was a spike in modern design due to the need for affordable housing after World War I and newfound international influences, like Scandinavian design.


Mid-century modern interiors are visually light and stick to the form-follows-function principle. As a result, creations from this period tend to take up as little space as possible. There is nothing unnecessary in their design. In terms of materials, plastic and wood are often featured in furniture design, whereas architects relied on, then revolutionary, reinforced concrete and steel.


Author Cara Greenberg coined the phrase "midcentury modern" as the title for her 1984 book, Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s. She highlights the period from 1945 to 1960 as a time of "unusual brazenness and adventurousness for the world design community." Some sources also trace this influential time to pieces created just a bit earlier, in the 1930s. The popularity of midcentury modern design today has roots at the time of Greenberg's book.


Basic characteristics of mid-century modern interior design include:

  • Organic and geometric shapes

  • clean lines with a mix of both organic and geometric shapes

  • Function over form

  • Minimal ornamentation

  • Contradicting materials and textures

  • Neutral and bold colors

  • Bringing nature indoors.


Charismatic furniture from the past that imagined a cool, uncluttered future has become very popular now. Today, furniture manufacturers like Herman Miller and Knoll are still producing and reproducing many of the designs from the mid-century period, and the Eames Lounge Chair has never gone out of production since it was first released. Ironically for a movement that prided itself on its accessibility, many of the pieces now come with steep price tags.


Today, the mid-century modern style is now considered a retro-look that respects the attitudes and practicalities of the time. While it is an era that has passed, it has certainly not been forgotten and the style continues to influence designers of today.




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