What is Mid-century Modern?
‘Mid-century modern’ is a widely used term which describes the architecture, furniture and graphic design prevalent in the middle part of the 20th century − roughly from 1933 to 1965.
Many of the modernist designs, for which this era is especially famous, permeated the national consciousness as a result of the 1951 Festival of Britain – a five-month long celebration of British science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts which was centred on London’s South Bank. The Festival not only inspired a new generation of artists and designers, but also became the launch pad for some of Britain’s greatest design pioneers; Robin Day, John and Sylvia Reid and Sir Terence Conran.
The architects of the modern movement, like the Reids, left little to chance, designing not only buildings to the modern aesthetic, but everything they contained. The furnishings of this era were notably devoid of decoration which made their shape and form the focal point of the designs – simplicity of form directing the spotlight to their craft and precision.
Scandinavian design from the likes of Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner may have blazed the trail for modernist design in the post-war era, but as home building technologies currently rapidly advance, the significance of good design to a well-functioning home has become even more critical to today’s discerning consumers. Practical flexible and ergonomic designs, like the Reids’ 2018 re-issued S-Range, although created with the new post-war practical economy in mind, have become even more sought after for contemporary homes and interiors.
Said Sylvia Reid of her and husband John’s designs: “We were trained to look at everything from a design point of view. We thought carefully about how everything was made and about it being practical to live with.” A design ethos which is still incredibly pertinent and relevant today.
Mid-century pieces are simply well-designed objects which have stood the test of time. Once progressive and aspirational, they are now valued for their understated finesse and simple lines, which creates a stylish framework for self-expression and multi-functional living.