5 Mid-Century Modern Design Principles for Interiors

5 Mid-Century Modern Design Principles for Interiors

Background and Influences

Mid century modern was a design movement which evolved in the 1950’s. It was seen in anything related to design, from interiors to interior products, graphic design, architecture and such. This moment was started to bring in modernism in the urban world, post World War II.

Source: collov.com (left)  decoist.com (right)

It is said to have been influenced by the Bauhaus style, which began in Germany. After World War II, some of the architects and designers from Germany migrated to America because of changes in their own country. They happened to influence the American designers by their design sensibility. The changing economies and technological advancements also affected this movement. It led to development of new materials, textures, colours and forms.

What is it about this style that keeps us coming back to it after more than half a century later?

Most of the designs of the mid century had gone out of fashion by the late 60’s, but in last two decades they have become very popular and are there to stay in the with the design enthusiasts.

The simplicity, usage of material, slender frames and casual attitude in the mid century modern designs could hardly go out of fashion and works very well with small urban spaces.

Ray and Charles Eames, whose names are synonymous with mid-century modern, felt the philosophy was simple and powerful: “Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least amount of money.”

Here are some interesting ways of incorporating mid-century modern style into your space.

Simplicity and Organic Influences

Source: frederica.com (left)    onekindesign.com (right)

When we think about mid-century modern, first thing that comes to our mind is simplicity of form and function. Uncluttered, sleek lines with both organic and geometric forms, avoiding any ornate embellishments for your space.

When doing your interiors keep the furniture simple and minimalist. Make one area as your focus that will dictate the room function. Fit your lounge with the high windows. By using wooden-legged furniture, like the  nested coffee tables and long three-seater or the lounge chairs, your interior can offer difference without one piece dominating. Some photo frames could add focus behind your couch or use interesting bright wall paper behind your neutral colour credenza to accentuate the room.

Source: etsy.com(left)  miyainteriors.com (right)

Create a Cozy yet spacious look by placing a mid century modern sofa on a wooden floor. Add to the look with leather pouffe and a metal and leather magazine stand. Face two lounge chairs towards the sofa for a conversation. Complete the look with a mid century style TV unit and carpet, cushions and throw for some warmth, in contrasting colours, keeping everything subtle and light tones.

Functionality is Important – as form follows function

Source: pinterest (left)     resourcefurniture.com (right)

Given the more casual lifestyle of today, comfort is the most important factor for picking up any piece of furniture. Seating designed in mid-century modern era defined that factor strongly by keeping neat proportions and functional shapes to furniture and other interior objects. The furniture was made foldable, stackable or interchangeable to various functions. In every mid century modern furniture, design details were there for a reason. For eg. buttons in the sofa were added to hold the fabric from bunching on the curves. Later it became a simple design detail. Strip your space of anything that is unnecessary. Keep only the bare minimum and adorn with interesting objects.


Source: home-dweller (left)    houzz.com (right)

When you bring in simplicity in forms, your space needs to be layered with visual interest. That is where colours come into play. From bold and graphic balck and white, pops of bright colours to subtle pastel shades, mid-century modern brought everything to your palette. Colours were a key element to this style bringing in optimism after the drab war years.

When doing up your interior space add a bold printed or bright solid colour fabric to your lounge chair, keeping the rest of the furniture in neutral hues. Go for a blue/ green or bright red/ orange/ yellow. Warmth can be achieved with blight coloured or printed cushions, carpets and throws or accentuate the wall with a geometrical pattern wall paper in black and white. Avoid mixing colours.


Source: verdicalgroup.com

With the development of technology, new methods or construction and materials evolved during the mid-century modernism. Materials like plastic greatly influenced the designers. Plastic was used for its qualities, which allowed molding into more fluid forms, keeping aesthetics and ergonomics in place. There was a liberal use of traditional materials like solid wood and more modern materials like metal, glass, vinyl, ply, flexi glass and Lucite. The designers enjoyed the flexibility in design with the surge of more interesting materials which in turn made the furniture more affordable.

Create the look with different materials and textures. To design an eclectic, yet understated living room, take a more comfortable leather upholstered sofa and experiment with the accent chairs. Like"http://www.homedesigning.com/2010/10/mid-century-modern-classic-chairs"mid-century modern classic chairs, Barcelona and a metal accent chair. Add to it a marble coffee table and metallic standing lamp.

Source: brabbu.com (left)   westelm.co.uk (right)

For a more formal look go more a all wooden dining set with wood frame and upholstered dining chairs. If you are more of a casual person, go for a wood top and metal base dining table with plastic molded chairs like the DSW chair variants or a wooden chair with weaving.


Source: www.dwell.com

As we can see it is a timeless style blending modernism with functionality, so there has to be a visual harmony with autonomous furniture or décor pieces. Each piece should balance the other and not dominate. Furniture and décor should support an extended architectural space. All sides of the furniture should look beautiful.

Coherence can be brought in by using neutral tones, similarity of material, like the metal coffee table and wire mesh lounge chair, sticking to the black, brown and white, yet adding a bit of twist with the orange door.

Would love to connect on interesting mid-century design ideas. If you want to imbibe this style for your interiors and looking for mid-century modern furniture do visit out website www.bluedotdesign.in or write to us at info@bluedotdesign.in.