Can Furniture More than Half a Century Old Be Classed as Modern?


It seems that, wherever you go, a new mid century modern furniture store in Los Angeles appears. It is the buzzword of today, particularly in the interior design world. However, what does “mid century” really mean? After all, mid century would point to the period between 1930 and 1960, but that would be at odds with the term “modern”.

But then, what is modern? If something was created in 1950, it would have been considered modern at that time. But would it still be modern today? For many of us, modern is synonymous with new, and whenever a new version is released, the older version is no longer seen as modern (think software updates on a smartphone).

In reality, however, the term “modern”, at least when it comes to furniture, does not necessarily mean new. In fact, it is not related to time at all. Rather, it is about what it looks like. Key design features in modern pieces include:

  • Curves.
  • Sleek.
  • Minimal looks.
  • Low profile frames.

If you add to this some sweeping lines, then you have mid century modern furniture.

A Furniture Genre

Mid century modern furniture, as such, is a genre. And that genre existed some 80 to 60 years ago, which means the pieces are now also classic, vintage, and almost antique. The genre itself because famous due to three reasons:

  • The popularity of the furniture’s designer. Take a Charles Eames piece, for instance, whose chairs belong in the hall of fame.
  • The appearance itself. The pieces must be artistic, and they must match with other such designs.
  • The functionality of the product. Generally speaking, mid century modern furniture is not about being a work of art, but rather about being practical. Consider, for instance, the table by Eileen Grey, which was both a bedside table and a breakfast tray.

Of course, now, we consider these types of pieces art, because they have stood the test of time. Today, pieces by Eames or Grey are worth thousands of dollars. Commonly, the price shoots up at the moment the designer dies, but mainly, the value comes from the fact that the pieces weren’t appreciated when they were made.

What truly makes mid century modern furniture so popular, however, is that they fit so incredibly well with 21st century furniture styles. The Eileen Grey table, for instance, is made of metallic materials and glass, with a crescent bottom and a round top. Because of the sleekness of the materials, it won’t look out of place in today’s living room either. This is very different from a Chesterfield couch, for instance, which has to be placed in a much more restricted décor in order to look good.

If you are on the look out for mid century modern furniture, you will be happy to know that there is lots of it about nowadays. Do be aware, however, that most pieces are replaces or are designer inspired. The real deal will truly set you back a few thousands dollars.