If you dig a little bit on Google, you will find lots of blogs pertaining to a particular style of interior design: Contemporary, Minimalist, Rustic, Industrial, Eclectic. These are some of the names you might encounter, along with Modern and Mid-century Modern, which are often used interchangeably (or the latter as an abbreviation of the former).
I, for one, have seen my share of MCM blogs and forums, and through my own obsession with the style I have found that a large portion of people interested in interior design recognize and love the style, meaning that I am apparently not at all alone in my efforts.
Mid-century modernism, as we mention, is different from the others in that it points to a particular point in time, arguably from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. Sometimes modernism is used to refer to a larger period, maybe including the decades from the 1920s onward. Why is this style still popular today? What are its strengths when compared to other styles?
Timelessness and a love for nature
I like to think that Mid-century designers really cared for the past, present, and future of humanity. They also cared about nature, but they also knew that human innovation stems from the artificial. They were scientists and artists at the same time. Their efforts led to many breakthroughs in architecture and the arts, and it also helped to shape new ways of living out our lives and making use of the objects around us. That’s the number one reason for me.
But let’s also introduce a little bit of history. Another reason why mid-century modernism is so popular is because it was made popular. The term was coined by Cara Greenberg to serve as the title of her book on designers from the 1950s and 60s.
In that book, which was published in 1984, she introduced many iconic pieces and design practices to the world, and people all over the United States started getting into modernist furniture. The term caught up and its popularity made it into an instant classic.
A renaissance that still hasn’t ended (and doesn’t look like it will anytime soon)
The first company to take notice of this trend was Knoll, which then inspired other competitors, such as Herman Miller, to starting selling mid-century furniture once again. This happened in the 1990s, and at the time, both of them had moved on from modernist products into a more contemporary line for office spaces, among other things. These companies were (and still are) a little elitist, and their manufacturing of mid-century modern pieces helped cement most of them as items of luxury, taste, and class in the late 20th century and the beginnings of this one.
The furniture comeback was well-received among home design enthusiasts, who were also driven by the fact that many original mid-century designs were being sold in luxury auctions for tens of thousands of dollars. Suddenly, the once forgotten style had become a timeless classic.
Nowadays, an Arco Lamp, a Barcelona chair, or an Eames lounge chair are synonyms of sophistication, wealth, and good taste. Like everything in the world of the arts, it is people who give these objects their worth and meaning. The advent of the replica market in the late 1990s and 2000s also helped these pieces to become more expensive and sought-after.
As a closing statement: talking about mid-century modern furniture, to me, is talking about a time that was very productive for the arts and humanities. The modernist era was the backbone for the world we’re living in now, and recognizing that is important. We are now living, according to some very smart people, in a post-modernist world, and MCM is still going strong as both an interior design style and (in some aspects) a way of life.
So, to end this article, let’s just say that (to me) the mid-century modern style is more than just a home design trend, it’s the amalgamation of a very relevant period in our human history as creators. But what do you think? Let me know if you have anything to add.