While on a brief trip to the Cabana Bay resort at Universal Studios, in Orlando, Florida, I realized the how and why of my love for Mid-century modern. To my 52 year old mind, it is the nostalgic stuff of my avant-garde trendsetting artist grandmother, Cornelia, or Gramma Lella as I loved to call her. As a designer, I see it as iconic, clean lines that work so well with vibrant color, art, book collections, musical instruments and all sorts of eclectic “accumulations”. To the youthful minds of some 20-somethings I was with, it is just plain fun. Noteworthy from a period in American history that introduced tv commercials and mass production.
A few years ago I designed a kitchen for an old friend. She loved it so much that she wanted to keep the updating going. Next was the living room. As I started to examine the old Danish modern love-seat and chair set that had been attacked over the years by several cats, she blurted out… “Oh, no! Those are going!” Not so fast, I thought. Sure, there was stuffing sticking out and the fabric hadn’t seen a good day in years but the frames were fabulous. Sleek, teak wood in a natural finish and such graceful lines! So I started my case for Mid-century Modern.
I started to gush all things Mid-century modern. How it is an iconic style recognized by the MoMA, how the clean lines and simple shapes actually trace to Bauhaus Modernism, c1919 and how the revolutionary concepts taught in that art school were embraced in the 1920’s by Kaare Klinte, a young European who combined modern art forms, fine furniture craftsmanship and an ergonomic sense to start the Danish modern movement. I rattled on about how it is a classic, how it could never go to the trash heap, how I would lovingly rescue it with help from some loving re-upholsterers…. As I pleaded the case, she interrupted with a smile and said, “Honestly, I have always loved it! I figured these pieces were too old and ruined and you wouldn’t like them. I was going to let them go because this is what you do and maybe it was time for a change…” I smiled back, telling her, NOPE! We would give them new life! And we did!
The funny thing is, the true Bauhaus style Danish Modern that inspired the American Mid Century Modern style actually born in the 1930s are becoming legitimate antiques. Add another design oxymoron to the mix. Post-Modern as in “after modern” and now vintage modern and modern antiques! With such a wealth of style options to choose from, we are living in a time when anything goes. Why consider Mid-Century modern with such a wealth of styles to choose from? Because a mid-century modern space with the right scale and some fabulous color will draw the eye, invite you in, keep you comfortable and inspire some good conversation. I rest my case.