It’s a question that’s intrigued writers, designers, collectors, and critics alike and inspired whole collections and even companies: Just why is it that people are so enamored with midcentury-modern design? From the graceful silhouettes of Hans Wegner to the warm woods favoured by the likes of Florence Knoll and Jens Risom, the design principles of this one era have not only remained in vogue but sparked countless ripoffs and reissues.
Are we nostalgic for a certain designer, a certain retro form, or a certain chair or is it nostalgia for that simpler, more gracious time. Maybe, as a society, we have a collective yearning. Mothers who wrote handwritten thank-you notes, and entrepreneurial, hardworking fathers. An era when a journey by aeroplane merited serious sartorial consideration, and when people would talk and not just text. Whether or not you agree about nostalgia driving design trends, the evidence stands. What many critics have called a ‘trend’ seems to have no indication of slowing down anytime soon.
There is an honesty and simplicity in midcentury-modern design that makes it very appealing, especially as our lives get more busy and our world gets more complicated. The style is about simplicity in building materials, eschewing excess adornment, having a connection to the environment, and surrounding yourself with fewer things but things that have meaning. Those qualities are always going to be in style.
Some of us may opt for new upholstery, as it is more appropriately scaled for today’s homes and bodies, and then mix in the mid-mod elements. For someone who wanted to add some mid century modern flair to an otherwise traditional space, they could start with a statement occasional piece – say, a fabulous retro lamp, side table, or a vintage wood-framed chair. Any of those items can instantly change the dynamic of a room, without committing to an entirely throwback look.
Although today’s lifestyle is obviously much different than that of the 1950s and ’60s, young families now find this retro look appealing. Even though we have more and more time-saving technology, people are busier than ever before. Working parents, who are pulled in too many directions, probably don’t want a fussy interior with lots of things and lots of upkeep. And we are constantly in visual overload. A well-designed modern interior that requires less upkeep provides a respite for the body, the mind, and, if done right, the soul.