More Mid-Century Modern
Karen Parr-Moody

It seems strange to call something a trend when it has been around for half a century, but such is the case with Mid-Century Modern. And unlike other design genres — Art Deco, Art Nouveau or Victorian — Mid-Century Modern has been enjoying a renaissance for more than a decade now.

The 2007 debut of "Mad Men," the award-winning TV series set in the 1960s, is the most recent feeder of the frenzy. But the renaissance seemed to kick off around the time of the 2000 launch of Dwell, a magazine technically devoted to modern architecture, but with a decidedly Mid-Century Modern tone.

Antique stores, such as GasLamp, have kept abreast of these societal developments by showcasing the best Mid-Century Modern goods. The architectural, interior and product design movement of Mid-Century Modern was popularized by American and Danish designers from the 1940s to the 1960s and included teak desks, boxy sofas, bentwood chairs, starburst clocks and an array of candy-colored dinnerware (think Russel Wright).

As a new mother, I have noticed that the Mid-Century Modern style has even touched the world of children's design. I first caught on to this trend in 2006 with the debut of the expensive ($100), but gorgeous, Alexander Girard alphabet blocks. The 28-block set was created to coordinate with the San Francisco MoMA's exhibit that celebrated the Mid-Century Modern designer.

The dolls in the photo, above right, are created in a similar Mid-Century Modern vein ($25 each; Booth W-409). They are brought to GasLamp by Mollie Martin, who sells them under the clever name of "Pieceful Worlds Clothing." She uses 100-percent cotton fabrics to make them and — let's face it — they look like doll versions of Diana Ross and The Supremes. They seem perfect for a Mid-Century Modern nursery or playroom, do they not? Plus, they look so original with their raw edge appliques and Mary Jane shoes. Each face — complete with heart-shaped lips — was drawn on using permanent fabric markers.

Also perfect for the realm of children is this darling wooden school chair (photo, left; $85; Booth B-313). This classic Mid-Century Modern style is made of an aqua colored steel frame and a molded bentwood plywood seat and back. The wood has been left natural so that its warm beauty is on display. Despite its age, such a chair was built for strength and stability and would make a wonderful addition to a retro child's table or desk. It could even be used in the living room to make a child feel at home among the adults.  

The sultry warmth of gold was popular in the chic interiors of the Mid-Century Modern era. In today's décor, gold toned items imbue rooms with a playful luxuriousness. Such is the case with this gilded wall hanging, its gold branches replete with flowers (photo, right; $75; $29.50; Booth T-301). These wall hangings were incredibly popular as art during the 1960s and were originally made from molded wood pulp in an attempt to mimic hand carving, but went on to be made out of molded plastic.


These vintage cantilevered chairs from Italy fit in perfectly with Mid-Century Modern décor (photo, left; $365; T-504). But the shiny, chrome curves of such chairs were actually first seen during the Art Deco era. In 1926, German designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe made use of the cantilever principle for metal-frame chairs with the MR chair. Another German designer, Marcel Breuer, designed a metal chair — the Cesca — on the cantilever principle in 1928. Such chairs continued to be made by creative designers for decades and included the Chair 20 by Poul Kjaerholm of Denmark in 1968.


Light and airy, Mid-Century Modern design has captured the imaginations of architects and interior designers for decades. That fascination continues today, as the style now captivates an entire new generation of fans.

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