ICONIC MID-CENTURY DESIGN | NOW AND THEN

Following trends in interior design is a gamble. What is on trend can be off trend in just a year. Even the it color (turquoise for 2010) changes annually.

So, I wonder if iconic mid-century designers like Eames and Knoll knew their designs would outlast trends decades later. The time was Post War 1950′s when designers were optimistic about the future and looked for ways to establish harmony between natural and man made design elements. Furnishings tend to be well-built, have clean lines, and have smaller scale, perfect for apartments or small spaces.

I’ve paired spaces (below) that feature the same iconic furniture piece.  The images labeled NOW are straight from the Design Within Reach website. The images labeled THEN are from Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement circa 1970. FYI, there are a total of eighteen volumes!

The Barcelona® Chair / Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, produced by Knoll®
 
Eames® Lounge and Ottoman / Designed by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller®
 
 Saarinen Tulip™ Armchair and Round Dining Table / Designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll®
 Wassily Chair / Designed by Marcel Breuer for Knoll®
Womb™ Chair – Fabric / Designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll®
Kura Reversible Bed / IKEA
Swan Chair – Leather / Designed by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen

A couple of weeks ago my aunt invited the family over for dinner. I hadn’t been to her house since I was a kid and was surprised to see the decor was still pretty much the same.  In the dining room (left), she updated the window coverings and added a few accessories. The tablecloth was there just for dinner.  In her rec room (right) I was shocked to see this bar and the wallpaper.  Believe me when I tell you all of her “classic” pieces are in excellent shape!

I asked her if I could return later to take more pics. These were the only two I could snag before everyone sat down to eat. My Aunt and I had a brief conversation about her downsizing to a smaller place which meant her getting rid of this furniture.  I would be interesting in knowing the value of these and other “vintage” pieces found in her home.

Do you know anyone who decorates their home in Mid-Century Modern decor? I feel a sense of nostalgia when in homes of this style. What mood does it evoke for you?

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24 Responses to “ICONIC MID-CENTURY DESIGN | NOW AND THEN”

  1. L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys Says:

    I like the chandelier!

    Thanks again for the guest post on my blog today on Sex & the City!

    Reply

  2. crash pad girl Says:

    I'm a huge mid century nut. That for those old photos.

    Reply

  3. Talking with Tami Says:

    I love the kids room fun

    Reply

  4. niki.mac Says:

    Mies van der Rohe, Saarinen and Eames were truly brilliant designers! That whole "class" was in a league of their own. I don't think this furniture will EVER go out of style!

    Reply

  5. Erica @ Decorica Says:

    It's amazing that these classic pieces are still so prominent in designing our homes today.

    Reply

  6. Janell @ Isabella and Max Says:

    It is interesting how some of the "then" images look incredibly current, particularly the kids' room. Crazy! What a fun post!!
    Janell

    Reply

  7. Debbie@Vintage Scout Interiors Says:

    I LOVE that you cannot tell the difference in time between the photos! I just placed a midcentury sideboard in a job as a console under a flatscreen television. I'll have photos posted on my blog as soon as the window treatments get installed.
    http://www.vintagescoutinteriors.blogspot.com

    Reply

  8. Jade @ Flip Flops + Pearls Design Says:

    Goes to show good design is timeless. The then photos look like they are from today…great post!!!

    Reply

  9. Tamstyles Says:

    alot of people dont really know what they have…someones grandmother is sitting on a goldmine of decor, and just doesnt know it.

    Reply

  10. Kiki Says:

    you know what? mid century decor does make you feel nostalgi, but like Tamstyles said, there is so much to be uncovered in you grandmas house…Great pieces that are sturdy and can transcend changing design seasons..

    XOXO
    Kiki

    Reply

  11. Leah Says:

    Erika, my cousin Belle has amazing taste when it comes to mid-century/modern design. I would love to submit some photos of what she had done. She is not a designer or decorater but has done an awesome job. BTW, what did your Aunt do with the furniture she got rid of?

    Reply

  12. Erika @ BluLabel Bungalow Says:

    @ Leah, Please I would love to see what Belle had done! My Aunt hasn't decided to move yet. Should I let you know when she does?

    Reply

  13. Kiran Says:

    It is amazing how our lives are one big circle.

    Reply

  14. Deliciously Organized Says:

    I love seeing the now and then! and her pieces are gorgeous.

    Reply

  15. Mrs. Chic Says:

    I love Mid Centry style it's so much fun – great selcection of pics

    Reply

  16. Will @ Bright.Bazaar Says:

    I agree, Mid Cent style is brilliant. Great to see how things where then compared to now. Really enjoying my first few days reading your blog!

    Reply

  17. Rachel Kay Says:

    Just stumbled across your blog, love it!
    I can't believe those photos of your Aunt's home, the house look's amazing!

    Reply

  18. char Charles Says:

    Erika, I'm a huge fan of the mid-century design style. As a matter of fact my father worked on the famous Eichler Homes in Walnut Creek, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto. Of course this area is now called Silicon Valley. I used to go to the site with him every week-end versus playing with Barbie. It was these trips that made me realize my love for mid- century architecture. And the rest is history (blah blah blah).
    Your NOW and THEN is super kool.
    Take Care.
    Char

    Reply

  19. Amanda @ 24 Maple Lane Says:

    What I find so amazing is that you can't even tell in some of the comparisons which one is "now" and which one is "then". Truly timeless!

    Reply

  20. my favorite and my best Says:

    omg that is so funny. all of those pics look relevant..

    Reply

  21. Dayka (Life +Style) Says:

    it's crazy how most of the "then" rooms look like something we'd see in a magazine today! i'm lovin' your auunt's stools, too–great post.

    Reply

  22. Niya Says:

    Wow! My dad has an Eames lounge and ottoman and 2 Wassily chairs. Guess he was in style back in the day….times have changed! lol!

    Reply

  23. Redesign Diva Says:

    Great post, I compare a lot of the then and now too with older books and magazines. Most of design is simply recycled. I know when Duncan Phyffe started he simply copied other artists before him, until he created his own style. I am excited to see WHO will be the Phyffe's, and Eames' during our era…

    Reply

  24. Hello Lover... Says:

    I love this. I think the best type of designs last and are classic like these images. I truly hope I can design my home in a way that when I look at it in the future it doesn't make me cringe (at least not all of it).

    Reply

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