Key Mid Century Modern Pieces That'll Kickstart a Room in Your Budding Designer Home

 Key Mid Century Modern Pieces That'll Kickstart a Room in Your Budding Designer Home

Credit: Pelloponne, via CC BY-SA 4.0

Put an Eames chair in a room, then build the room around it, and you’ll have perfection. Do everything the other way around and you’ll feel like it’s missing something - imagine Breakfast at Tiffany’s without Audrey Hepburn.

Mid century modern wasn’t just a chic design trend that we all feel more than a little nostalgia for.

Looking back, we now see it for what it actually was - a major design movement, behind which, was a stealth army of hugely creative and enthusiastic designers, architects, artists, sculptors, and graphic designers - all championing the way to a new and better-designed world.

To say the pieces that came out of this movement are iconic is pretty much an understatement - no wonder they add, by far, the biggest impact to a room.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you meet MCM halfway, you may still get a perfectly lovely room - but if you really want a knock the ball out of the park room that wouldn’t be out of place on the cover of a magazine - nothing else you do will have nearly as much of an impact as starting with any one of these key pieces.

Here for your delectation are 5 key statement pieces that will make or break a room - enjoy!

1. The Eames Chair - Charles and Ray Eames 1956

This chair is the total star of the show - put it in any room you like and it’ll shine like the perfect party host.

Adored as much for its sensuous curves as it is for its use of practical, good quality materials like leather, wood, and powder-coated aluminum - it’s the single most popular piece of MCM furniture today. Not all the MCM chairs that transcended the status of innovative design to art form are particularly comfortable or even practical. The Eames chair, on the other hand, looks and feels so comfortable it’s almost physically impossible to resist.

Like any work of art, you wouldn’t dream of crowding it out with tons of other stuff - you’d give it some space to breathe, wouldn’t you? Do that with an Eames chair and it will ramp up the cool zen vibe to a room.

2. The Tulip Table - Eero Saarinen 1956

At some point, Saarinen felt that 4 was far too many legs for a dining table and chairs and was determined to eradicate all the extra fuss.

Paired down to the absolute minimum, the tulip table is undeniably informal in appearance but it’s also irresistibly elegant. It could easily have been designed specifically for how we live our lives in our modern-day society.

Today, the table looks even better when it’s mismatched with other dining chairs of the period. It’s that whole denim jacket with jeans thing - it kinda looks best if you go with one or the other - but that doesn’t mean you can’t totally rock the complete look if you really want to go for it.

3. The Barcelona Chair - Mies van der Rohe 1929

Credit: Mark B. Schlemmer, via CC BY-SA 2.0

The Barcelona Chair will appeal to anyone with an appreciation for minimalism and good art.

In fact, if you have one of these in your home, you sound cool and interesting to me and I want be your friend.

It’s both vintage and contemporary at the same time and it’s incredible to think just how long ago this chair was designed, if fact it’s one of the earliest chairs still in production.

People say it’s not very comfortable. But honestly, I feel privileged to have sat in one - and though it’s not a chair to curl up and fall asleep on, it’s very comfortable just to sit and read or just to sit to relax.

4. The Eames DSW Chair Charles & Ray Eames - 1950

If you didn’t know its history, you’d think the Eames DSW chair was designed a just a couple of years ago, and now seems to be really taking off. It certainly doesn’t look like it was designed in 1950!

And that’s the point, so much of what we think of as new, or contemporary in furniture design is either classic mid-century modern or has been heavy influence by MCM - and the Eames DSW chair is a perfect example of this.

If you are wondering what the letters stand for:

  • DSW stands for Dining height Side chair with a Wood base.
  • DAW is the Dining height Armchair with a Wood base.

Effortlessly simple - almost basic in style, these molded recyclable polypropylene (or eco-fiberglass) chairs with a highly structural wood and metal base, are positively ram-packed full of clever design and good taste.

They are incredibly popular now. They’ll go with practically any kitchen or dining table. And they’d be a great match for the tulip table.

5. The Noguchi Table - Isamu Noguchi 1944

Part coffee table - part a sculptural work of art, the design of the Noguchi table is so beautifully simple. It consists of just three design elements - one organic triangular-shaped glass top and two identical interlocking wood pieces for the base.

Strictly speaking, this one is “modern” as in mid-century modern, but it’s not contemporary - it has more of a retro feel.

If you want the retro look, this piece will give you that - in bucket loads.