We can’t seem to leave the last century behind. Two decades into the 21st century and we find that designers are, once again, looking back to an age that many perceive as glamorous, forward-thinking, and, even cool (think Mad Men.) Mid-Century Modern style is evident in many of the newest styles of outdoor furniture. Its sleek aesthetic appeals to those looking to simplify, live efficiently, scale back and scale down, and to associate with the glamour of a bygone era as seen in classic movies.
Featuring subtle curves and clean lines, Mid-Century Modern is not to be confused with the terms contemporary or modern. Whereas contemporary styles are often characterized by cold materials such as metal and glass, Mid-Century Modern generally uses warmer, organic materials such as wood and stone and more color and detail. Contemporary and Modern are often used interchangeably but Contemporary is more often used to mean “of the current time”. Modern tends to be used for designs which feature modern materials, stark simplicity, and are often machine-made and mass produced.
But Will it Last?
As someone once described Mid-Century Modern, “it is like skinny jeans which have been the cool thing ten times in the last fifty years.” I would add to that analogy that it is like the use of animal prints which find their way onto the pages of design magazines every decade since they have been published. Mid-Century Modern style is a classic and when used with thought and editing, it will never be considered “out”. It has, in fact, been generally acknowledged as the largest modernist movement since the Industrial Revolution.
Modern, Contemporary, Scandinavian: What’s the Difference?
Often associated with either the word “Danish” or “Scandinavian”, Mid-Century Modern was heavily represented by Scandinavian designers after World War II when social democracy was strongly embraced in the Nordic countries and, in addition to the belief that government function for the benefit of all people, was that access to beauty, functionality, and comfort in their surroundings be readily available to everyone. Many of the most iconic designs of this era were designed by designers from the Scandinavian countries and today, these designs are well-rooted not only in design history, but in popularity, as well.
Embracing Mid-Century Modern in Your Home
It is important to remember that one does not need to live in a Mid-Century-Modern home in order to successfully include this style of furniture inside or out. The best method of bridging the gap in styles is to use an eclectic approach, using scale, color, and texture to blend various styles into one cohesive design representing the homeowner’s personal style.
Any one of the styles shown below would work in a traditional or contemporary setting–all it takes is careful planning and mindful selection.