Is it the clean lines? Streamlined forms? Use of rich materials like marble, quartz, walnut and teak? The impeccable joinery detail?
Likely all of the above….
It seems as though the more designers and artists have attempted to make things “fresh” or “contemporary” by fabricating chairs out of Lucite, that should be used for costume jewellery not furniture, or applying rubberized paint in crayola-like colours to art niche objects instead of simply using glass or ceramic, the populous has decreed a need for classically well made pieces in versatile forms that can be seen as retro, modern, contemporary, classic and just plain cool.
At the time that Mid Century design began to gradually rise to popularity, the Bauhaus based design scheme was seen as wildly avant-garde and perhaps too paired back. The low lying furniture and crisp lines were in sharp contrast to tufted furnishings and richly textured materials like velvet and brocade of the bygone pre-war era. Though, with the new generation of baby boomers being born, and post-war husbands & wives developing steadier household incomes as men went back to work that enabled change in one’s home and style, the Bauhaus design style that originated in the 1930’s came into it’s own by the 1960’s and took flight. With the help of photographers like Slim Aarons and the Rat Pack developing a swank visual style of their own, Mid Century design in the 1960’s became the new modern.
The nagging question is-why is a style, that took flight in the 1960’s, popular again when other styles that soared in the 60’s (shag carpet, mustard coloured drapes, orange daisy print tiles in the kitchen) have not? I believe the answer is the simplicity the German-Danish style has retained and level of craftsmanship that is present in original work, and that is required for accurate re-fabrication today. Like a marble tile or voluminous space flanked by large windows, some things never go out of style and in this case-beautiful low lying sloped forms that are expertly crafted remain timeless.
Some may also say, why in an era where crisp, clean lines and steel and glass reign, would someone want furniture that may be reminiscent to many of their mother or grandmother’s home? The response to this is that while glass and steel and minimalism have their place, they can often be devoid of character and warmth, and while crisp and clean may reign in a commercial office or a pressed juice bar accented with little but a potted succulent in a powder white container, we do not live in commercial offices or pressed juice bars, we live in homes, that one would hope are comfortable (this does not mean void of style or taste) and are welcoming to return to after time away. By way of natural materials like teak and walnut and stone, and a palette often evocative of a desert sun-scape, Mid Century design embodies that warmth and welcoming appeal without being dowdy or dated due to it’s clean form and impeccable joinery.
Mid Century, is perhaps, the 21st century’s, New Modern.