Japandi: 5 Ways To Bring The Serene Look Into Your Home
The interior trend and approach to living that has become a favourite for many, ourselves included.
Mid century modern designs are known for combining sleek lines with organic shapes, using new materials, and methods to reimagine traditional pieces. Rooted in the Industrial Revolution and Post-War Era, the emergence of mid-century modern design began in the middle of the 20th century, taking shape in the 1930s and lasting well through to the 1960s.
The aesthetics of mid century modern brought the geometric forms and clean lines of the Bauhaus teachings into the Modernist movement, pioneered by iconic designers including Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames, Charlotte Perriand, and Arne Jacobsen – to name a few – were at the helm of the modernist movement.
Mid century modern stretched beyond home decor and played a huge role throughout our culture. Surprisingly as a style, it was often considered that architecture came first followed by decor and design trends. A mid century modern house would generally be one-story with an open-plan layout embellished with sleek, practical furniture, a lowered roof or ceiling, big windows on the sides and back of the house, and an emphasis on the outdoor space.
Mid century modern decor is synonymous with elegant chairs, statement lamps, and TV stands; featuring tapered legs, bold pops of colour, materials such as sleek chrome, and geometric patterns. Mid century modern furniture was designed to be multifunctional, based on the design principle that furniture was to conserve space in small homes and apartments rather than overwhelm it. You’ll generally find that original pieces can be stacked, folded, or nested.
Mid century modern designs have stood the test of time and continue to be as stylish, if not more so, in our homes, institutions, and offices today. The essence of mid century modern and the reason for its popularity – still to this day – is rooted in the simplicity and functionality of the iconic pieces. The use of mix-and-match materials makes them a perfect addition to any home. It could also be said that those buying homes and furniture today would have grown up around mid century design, meaning that their association with the style brings back a dose of nostalgia.
Now, why wouldn’t you want a piece of that in your home?
A question commonly asked is if there is a difference between mid-century modern and modern. They’re two of the same and are used together to define 1) an era 2) a style. Mid century refers to the era of 1930s – 1960s, whereas Modern is used to describe the present day and the future. Mid century modern defined the longevity of the style through the materials and technology that were used to continue the manufacturing of iconic pieces, through brands including Herman Miller and Florence Knoll.
Today, Herman Miller owns the rights to produce much of Charles and Ray Eames’, and George Nelson’s furniture in North America and Europe, and Knoll own the rights to manufacture iconic collection from designers including Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer.
In the words of Sotheby’s Joshua Holdeman, mid century modern pieces are “simply well-designed objects, with a timeless look.” Defined by organic shapes, minimal decor, and a love for materials, mid century modern can be relatively simple to emulate at home.
One of the key principles that define the mid century modern design is the idea that ‘form follows function’. That’s to say that furniture, objects, and buildings influenced by the modernism movement are designed to reflect its intended purpose – if they prove to not to be practical, then they’re not needed.
A table designed to address the ‘ugly, confusing, and unrestful world’ that Saarinen observed underneath chairs and tables. Introduced in 1956 by Eero Saarinen, the elegance of the Saarinen Table is hard to come by and make a stunning piece to any dining room.
An effortlessly, elegant chair with comfortable qualities makes the 109 Chair is a perfect fit for placing around your dining table. It’s been over 50 years since Finn Juhl launched its first production, this chair stands the test of time and continues to embody the sophistication of mid-century modern.
As part of Nelson’s Bubble collection, designed in 1947 by George Nelson, the lamps and pendants revolutionised the modernist style, taking a bold step away from the highly decorative interiors of the previous years. Their shapes create a unique and minimalistic style while producing a soft diffused light.
Simple, minimalist, sustainable and inspired by traditional Northern European style. The iconic 900 Tea Trolley was designed in 1936 by Alvar Aalto and made its history for being one of the first sustainable products ever to be made.
First designed and manufactured in the early 1950s by Florence Knoll, the Relax 3-Seater Sofa continues to be a timeless, classic piece of furniture that complements modern decor. A sofa to fall in love with.
Designed in 1944 by Isamu Noguchi, the Noguchi coffee table was described as a ‘sculpture for use’ and ‘design for production’. A beautiful sculptural piece in both art and design, making the perfect centrepiece for any living area.
Originally designed in 1929 by Mies Van Der Rohe, The Barcelona Chair is an absolute design classic. Made up of a chrome-plated steel frame, seat and back elements manufactured of upholstered foam material and covered with fine leather.
Notably one of the most iconic pieces in mid century design. Charlies and Ray Eames are the original design power couple, whose creativity knew no bounds. The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman was designed in 1956, to challenge the idea that modern design wasn’t comfortable; resulting in one of the most sought after lounge chairs.
An indispensable mid century decorative item, designed by Charles & Ray Eames. The Dot Pattern Wool blanket is made to snuggle up into and makes a perfect addition inside a thoughtfully designed and inviting modern home.
Inspired by designers such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, Grossman was a pioneer in shaping the aesthetic of mid-century modernism. Designed in 1947 by Gretta Grossman, the Gräshoppa Floor Lamp can be positioned in your tucked away reading corner or wherever you need it.
A gorgeous addition to your breakfast bar. This moulded plywood stool, designed in 1958 by Norman Cherner, is an icon of mid-century furniture design; it was showcased in exhibitions worldwide, including the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.
The elegant detailing and woodcraft of the Nelson Thin Edge bed had has stood the test of time. First introduced in 1954, the Nelson Twin Edge Bed is a true representative of George Nelson’s timeless, human-centred approach to design.
A simple light and dark colour scheme mixed with clean lines create the ultimate furniture statement. This vintage-inspired dresser designed by Greta Grossman adds warmth to any home and offers simplicity, versatility and a timeless appeal.
Designed in 1929 by Mies Van Der Rohe, the Barcelona Daybed is a stunning piece of design history. It’s tubular steel legs, hardwood frame and leather upholstery, the Barcelona Daybed is stylish must-have for your living room and has a very distinctive design.
An elegant and sophisticated addition to your bedroom. Designed in 1925, the Randaccio Mirror is one of Gio Ponti’s signature designs as it brings together elegance and modernity. Characterised by a crown-like detailing on the top; a detail used by Ponti in several of his works within design and art.
The Hang-It-All rack by Charles and Ray Eames elevated the everyday coat rack into something inventive and fun. Initially designed with multicoloured hooks and white wireframe, the material and colourway have since expanded in line with the sophistication, and sense of play, of the original.
Originally designed in 1958 for the private residence of an art collector in Columbus, Charles and Ray Eames made a point to abandon the seat shell typically seen in office chairs created the Aluminium Chair to adapt to the body of the sitter, making it unbelievably comfortable.
Defined by a colourful tray unit, this desk creates a stunning, sophisticated working area for any home. Finn Juhl was one of the most important interior designers of modern times, and inspired many by the belief that “gaps are also space.”
The Nelson clocks were firstborn from a spontaneous gathering, with renowned designers Isamu Noguchi and Bucky Fuller. George Nelson recalls: ‘And there was one night when the ball clock got developed… Noguchi came by, and Bucky Fuller came by… we started making doodles.’ The Polygon clock is the perfect representation of an evening spent of spontaneous doodling.
With its streamlined curves and angles, the Risom lounge chair is a testament to the simplicity and ingenuity that is so often found in timeless modern furniture. Designed in 1943 by Jens Risom and was the first piece to be commission by Knoll.
Start growing your mid-century modern collection and indulge in the classics:
Grab a vintage steal and get your hands on antique mid-century modern furniture and objects:
Be inspired by the mid-century modern style and make it your own:
It goes without saying that mid-century modern is renowned for its incredible history. It laid the foundation for experimental materials and the school of thought, ‘form follows function’, that is ever more prevalent today. Its history defines so much more than just an era; it gives us a glimpse into the creative minds behind what we currently see today in our homes: consider the design inspiration of IKEA furniture. We’ve listed some of our favourite books to learn more for the curious among you.
Featuring 80 design stories, From A to Eames covers every topic, idea, and iconic features to come out of the mid century modern era — from midcentury modern homes and interior design to graphic design and renowned influencers. Trust us, you’ll have a newfound respect for your IKEA knockoffs.
Case Study Houses is a must-read for fans of mid-century modern. The Case Study House program (1945 – 66) was an experimental project that offered America new, affordable, and easy-to-build modern home models. This book displays each of the 36 prototype homes through sketches, floor plans, photographs, and more — and makes for an interesting read or stunning coffee table decor. We’ve selected our Top 10 Case Study homes from the list and why we love them.
A compact travel guide that showcases more than 250 East Coast destinations, including impressive midcentury modern architecture by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. If you’re anything like us, we’ll be using this when plotting a trip to the USA. We’re looked far and wide for the Cities and Neighbours famous for their mid-century influence and put together a small guide for yours truly.
If you’re curious to learn more about the design style through the lens of one of its true godfathers, this book chronicles the life and evolution of Herman Miller, the company that played a critical role in the evolution of midcentury modern design.
Photo credits: 1-2. Oh, I Design
The interior trend and approach to living that has become a favourite for many, ourselves included.
We've scouted out the best colours and shades by Farrow & Ball for Spring 2021.
A stunning home tour that showcases the feminine and elegant touch of shabby chic together with rustic elements of country cottage.