Why Is ‘Mid-Century Modern’ Always Everywhere?

Dustin Walker

Dustin Walker

It is difficult to shop the trusty, high street retailers without finding yourself in a sea of elegant, walnut, Mid-Century style furniture. Swoon, Made and West Elm, to name a few, are experts in knowing what the people want, and you find oodles of it on these sites.

Interior design trends tend to stick a lot longer than fashion trends - I mean you’re not going to buy a new sofa for a friend’s party. However, Mid-Century Modern (MCM) is breaking the mould, it’s been very popular for a long time and there are no signs of this changing.

Let’s briefly unpack what MCM is. Cara Greenberg coined the term when she made it up as her book title in 1984; “Mid-century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s”. It’s a very broad phrase that refers to ether 1933 to 1965 or 1947 to 1957, depending how you like to argue. These dates are relevant to the Industrial Revolution and post-World War 1, and within the large Modernist movement. The associated designers are the likes of Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, Milo Baughman, George Nelson, and Florence Knoll; you don’t have to be a furniture geek to be familiar with their work.

If you are wondering how to pin down this style, think uninterrupted, organic curve, and circular-clean lines, a juxtaposition of materials but mainly wood and earthy tones. Or just watch Mad Men because it’s awesome.

There are some obvious reasons to me, as to why there is such staying power with this trend. One being that MCM furniture is small, it has narrow legs and the bulk of it is non-bulky! The design was considered for a small post war home and this feeds into urban living. New residential blocks in prime central London, although luxurious are relatively contained (exceptions made for the penthouse clients!). Properties are priced per square foot and they are often not a main residence. Therefore lightweight, small furniture is often the preference. 

Another reason is, that it is cool. MCM furniture is elegant and stylish. You can mix it with other items easily because of the rich, yet subtle colour palette. It now feels classic and people love classic; classic is expensive, timeless, smart. It is attractive and versatile, and that’s what we consider when purchasing furniture, and functionality…..oh and cost, which leads seamlessly (nearly) onto the last reason.

There is a huge spectrum of price points to incorporate the look, making it is readily accessible. Here’s a few examples.

Bella Tiarks