Want the chic yet old-school look in your living room? Founder of Josmo Studio and experiential furniture design studio And So, Anjali Mody breaks down the essentials for a mid-century modern living room
To be honest, décor styles can be quite confusing – Art Deco, Minimal, Modern, etc can seem to be vague and many times all of these can be found in one space, co-existing quite harmoniously together. We decode one of our favourites for the living room for you – mid-century modern.
Mid-century modern style has been around for quite sometime – from mid 1930s to around mid 1960s – but gained prominence after World War II. The term “mid-century modern” makes its debut in American author Cara Greenberg’s 1984 book, Mid-century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s.
The mid-century era saw several design greats come into their own, giving the world evergreen designs. One common feature to this was the ever-adaptable nature of the furniture. Tables could be used for anything from dining and studying to centre pieces in the living room and chairs too could adapt from the lounge to the library. Eero Saarinen (Womb Chair), Arne Jacobsen (Egg Chair), Charles and Ray Eames (Eames Lounge Chair), Vernor Panton and George Nelson (Marshmallow Sofa) are all great names associated with this style.
Mid-century modern in the home
It can be difficult to make out one décor style from the other, unless you put them in stark contrast and often the devil lies in the details. Many home owners and designers even choose to marry two styles in a single space. So how do you spot a mid-century modern style? It has its own hallmarks and distinctions:
1. An absence of embellishments and accessories is one marker. Mid-century modern focuses on the basic structure and form of
furniture pieces. You will not find any elaborate detailing and/or intricate carving on furniture, be it metal or wood, that belongs to
this design school
2. Furniture with strong, geometric shapes and slightly rounded edges, peg legs and cane work also fall under the mid-century
modern tag. Think classic Charles and Ray Eames – stark, harsh silhouettes offset by cosy padding and great ergonomics. Soft,
angular curves that create a visual flow are also characteristic of this era
3. Mid-century modern spaces have a healthy mix of materials – natural warm woods such as teak, Burma and rosewood combined
with modern materials such as glass, leather and even plastic. So all the furniture in your living room can be in different materials,
but their form is what will make the entire look cohesive
4. Texture is another hallmark. You will find them plenty and often layered – shag rugs on rough wooden floors; porcelain pieces on
smooth glass tables and even relief work such as embroidery on cushion covers
5. While the severity of shapes characterises mid-century modern, it’s the colours that really bring out the lighter side of this design
movement. From cerulean to bright pops of orange to calming tones of green – a true mid-century space will always have a dash of
colour that elevates the entire setting. This can be as upholstery, singular wall or even a statement rug
Anjali Mody's top tips for your mid-century modern home:
1. Creating a space that has a mid-century modern influence while still being driven by modern design is challenging. A good way to do
this is to pair a contemporary sofa with an art deco console and mid-century design lounge chairs. To add to the mix, throw down a
beautiful Shyam Ahuja dhurrie and accent the space with a multitude of plants
2. Lighting is key. Adding a tall curved lamp that extends onto the living room seaters will subtly illuminate the space
Form and function are the cornerstones of mid-century design. This dark wood console with straight lines and non-embellished design, coupled with the simplistic knobs is a prime example of mid-century modern design.
Cane furniture is also closely associated with mid-century modern. When creating such a space, skip the Scandinavian-esque light woods such as ash and beech for warmer teak and rosewood.
Geometrical shapes and stark silhouettes offset by plush padding is a defining characteristic of furniture from this era. Another important aspect of mid-century modern is use of mixed materials such as wood, plastic, brass, etc – all of which are brought together harmoniously.