Design Deep Dive: Midcentury Modern

Today, there is more buzz about midcentury modern design than ever. “Midcentury modern itself is a difficult term to define. It broadly describes the architecture, furniture, and graphic design from the middle of the 20th century (roughly 1933 to 1965, though some would argue the period is specifically limited to 1947 to 1957). The timeframe is a modifier for the larger modernist movement, which has roots in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century and the post-World War I period.” As described in a Curbed Blog. But there is a lot to love about midcentury design and architecture.

Traditional Midcentury Modern Design

The desire for simplistic, functional furniture and decor was a rebellion against ornate traditions. It was a way for families to embrace a modern and organic way of living. Key elements used in midcentury modern design were wood, metal, glass, and vinyl. Authentic midcentury modern furniture is made from teak, rosewood, and oak. The design characteristics are clean lines, sharp roof angles, large windows, soft curves, plain facades, and minimal ornamentation. A handful of midmod designers shifted the United States and the world with their way of thinking; Richard Neutra was an influential architect of the twentieth century. His theory on “biorealism” is the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature. Richard offend used biological science in architecture. Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe was the architect behind the Chicago skyline. Mies philosophy helped shape midcentury modern architecture. As he explained, “I am not interested in the history of civilization. I am interested in our civilization. We are living it. Because I really believe, after a long time of working and thinking and studying that architecture…can only express this civilization we are in and nothing else.”

Today’s Midcentury Modern Design

Many design movements evolve and change over the years, reinterpreted to suit the interiors of the times. During the 2000s, the millennial design aesthetic gave a new rise to a midcentury modern trend. The design veered away from the traditional Mad Men vibe to a more youthful, fresh, light version emerged. Since the 2000s, we see midcentury modern interiors embracing more boho notes, organic elements, and rustic touches. Popular colors of today’s version of midmod are earth tones like ochre, terra cotta, and forest greens. Don’t forget sought-after neutrals like sandy tans, chocolatey browns, and warm off whites, for the boldest liked hues are chartreuse, robin’s egg, and cherry red.

Carey Design Build’s Take on Midcentury Modern

“Midcentury modern (aka MCM or midmod) is known for its clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and an emphasis on blending interiors with exterior spaces – think large picture windows, an abundance of wood finishes, and plenty of houseplants. Michigan is home to a surplus of midcentury furniture, thanks to a large number of Dutch furnituremakers in both Grand Rapids and Holland. It’s a great style for every budget: pieces can be found at both high-end retailers and thrift shops. Even though midcentury designs often feature muted earth tones, I wanted to show that even vivid hues, like chartreuse and bright orange, have a place in the style.” Lead Designer at Carey Design Build, Elaine Nienhouse.

Storyboard designed and curated by Elaine Nienhouse, the Lead Designer at Carey Design Build.

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