Experts place the mid-century modern period from the 1930s to the mid-1960s, and mid-century modern furniture represents just one facet of the architectural period. Mid-century modern furniture really began to reach its prime in the years following World War II, when Americans were beginning to enjoy a more stable economy and were moving into quickly built homes that featured horizontal lines, more windows, and an overall more open flow. This distinctive furniture style combines beauty, innovation, and function and has remained popular for decades, even to today. Here are some of the most common characteristics that you’ll find in mid-century modern furniture.
Clean lines are a major design trait of the International Style that so heavily influenced the mid-century modern movement. Rather than intricate lines and adornments, mid-century modern furniture pieces feature clean lines, organic curves, and sharp geometric shapes. This helped put the emphasis on function—another key characteristic of mid-century modern furniture.
This time period also saw the invention of many new materials that could be used in furniture making. For this reason, mid-century modern style furniture tends to make use of alternative man-made materials, such as fiberglass or plastics like Plexiglass and Bakelite. You’ll also see mid-century modern style furniture crafted from less traditional furniture materials such as stainless steel, glass, and plywood. You will, however, still find many different woods used in mid-century modern style furniture—most especially teak, oak, walnut, and rosewood.
The use of non-traditional materials in these furniture pieces meant that colors could become more vivid. In mid-century modern style furniture, you’ll find bold colors such as red, yellow, green, and blue, and often these colors were paired with a neutral black or white. So if you’re one to love a bold accent chair for the living room, mid-century modern furniture just might be the way for you to go.
Mid-century modern style furniture tends to be highly practical, serving many different purposes in order to meet the demands of the modern lifestyle. The emphasis truly was—and still is—on function and practicality. You’ll find mid-century modern furniture that conveniently nests, bends, stacks, or folds, all to help you live your modern life with more convenience. And since homes in the post-World War II years tended to create an even flow from the indoors into the outdoors, the mid-century modern period also saw a rise in functional outdoor patio furniture.