The trend for mid-century modern may come and go (and come again), but one of the best parts of mid-century modern design is the timeless quality of the individual pieces. Many designs first created in the mid-century will look just as good in a contemporary space as a mid-century modern one. Here are eight examples of mid-century design that will always look good.
No list of mid-century modern design would be complete without the Eames’, so we’re putting them at the top of ours. Originally designed in 1956 by Charles and Ray Eames this chair has been in constant production since then. Regarded as one of the most comfortable chairs ever made the Eames’ used molded plywood to perfectly cup the body. Combined with supple leather upholstery the Eames Lounge Chair will continue to add style and luxury to living spaces for generations to come.
Initially designed in 1958 for the Langelinie Pavilion restaurant in Copenhagen, originals of this lamp still hang there to this day. Resembling an upside-down artichoke or a pine cone this piece features individual aluminum leaves in circular rows that help to shield the light source while reflecting and redirecting the light. The ultimate modernist chandelier this lamp continues to look stunning in a variety of decors.
Saarinen Tulip Table and Chair
Originally created in the mid-1950s Saarinen designed the tulip table and chair to clear up the “slum of legs” that he felt was plaguing most furniture design. He used the smooth lines of modernism to create pieces that had the appearance of being a single unit. Tulip chairs were designed to actually be produced as a single unit, but technology at the time prevented his true vision from being realized. Tulip tables are still a favorite, and work well in almost any decor. Paired with the tulip chair you’ll have yourself an ultimate vignette of modern style.
This is probably one of the funkiest designs on this list, but is also probably one of the most recognizable. While it may not have the most timeless style, it retains a look that’s both futuristic and retro that can work in both modern and contemporary spaces. First designed in 1963 the Ball Chair became almost immediately popular and retains popularity to this day.
Practical and functional with a sculpture-like appeal, the AJ Lamp (in floor, table, or wall form) has a style that still appeals to current design sensibilities. Originally designed for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in 1960 the AJ Lamp brings a touch of modern charm to any decor. Ideal for task lighting the shade can be angled to direct light exactly where you need it most.
Perfectly capturing the spirit of atomic age design the Ball Clock will always charm with its retro-futuristic look. Originally designed in 1949 the Ball Clock was the first of more than 150 clocks designed by George Nelson Associates for the Howard Miller Clock Company. Available in multi-color or more neutral hues this clock can work well in various decors, not only mid-century modern inspired ones.
Capturing the essence of Danish mid-century modern design the Wishbone Chair features a light, spindly, sculptural form that serves as the perfect complement to minimalist spaces. Originally designed in the 1950s its design looks as fresh now as it did 60 years ago. The design was inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in classical Ming Chairs, which proves that great design really is timeless.
Florence Knoll’s original 1954 design set the standard for mid-century modern sofas. Capturing the rhythm and proportions of mid-century modern architecture Knoll’s design inspired a number of sofas that are similarly modern and timeless. The spare, geometric profile expresses the rational design approach taken by many mid-century modern designers. A Knoll inspired sofa will look in place in almost any style decor and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
This is just a taste of some classic mid-century modern designs. As minimalism and Scandinavian design continues to grow in popularity these iconic designs will keep having a place in our homes and our hearts.