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What is Mid-Century Modern Design? Everything You Need to Know

A picture of a mid-century design modern living room

Of many styles of interior design to choose out there, mid-century modern is one of the most popular. It has been making a comeback since its introduction back in the 1950s. But before implementing anything, you need to understand the concept of mid-century modern and find out if it suits you.

Introduction to mid-century modern

Interior design can be a headache if you don’t understand the basic principles of it. You can get some ideas about interior design by looking at pictures on the internet, and then finding a mid-century modern style design. The mid-century modern design was first introduced in the mid-20th century. It is always recognizable by its use of simple, but functional, wooden pieces made of teak, rosewood, or oak, and its use of curved design.

These wooden elements used in the design helped bring warmth and coziness into the space. Also, there are many ways for you to mix it with play of colors and use of natural elements, so you won’t see it as dull and boring.

Origins and characteristics of mid-century modern design

The mid-century modern design was first introduced back in the mid-20th century (roughly the 1940s to 1960s), hence the name “mid-century”. It was popular in the United States and Europe after the World War II era. Cara Greenberg was the first to use the term “mid-century modern” to describe this style of architecture and furniture design. The mid-century modern design was used by new homes being built after the soldiers came home from the war.

The design of mid-century modern is identic with the characteristics of:

  1. Mixing organic and geometric Shapes Mid-century modern style thrives on clean lines and a unique blend of organic and geometric shapes. This marriage creates a visually captivating and harmonious look that catches the eye.

  2. Extraordinary functionality Don't be fooled by the simple appearance of mid-century modern furniture. Each piece is carefully designed with both style and function in mind, ensuring you get furniture that's not only stylish but also practical for everyday use.

  3. Minimal ornamentation Embracing simplicity, the mid-century modern design avoids clutter and excessive decoration. This minimalist approach lets the intrinsic beauty of each piece shine through, resulting in an elegant and timeless aesthetic.

  4. Neutral and bold Colors The mid-century modern color palette strikes a balance between neutrals and vibrant tones. From calming earthy shades to lively splashes of color, this palette offers versatility. The interplay of neutral backdrops with bold accents adds depth and character, catering to diverse preferences.

The influence on interior design

The mid-century modern design started after World War 2. It was a time when people saw homes needed to be more functional and less formal. Because of that, it allows for new materials to make their way inside many homes. These new materials are easier to produce and cheaper to make. That is part of the reason why this design style incorporates its use in their design implementation.

This change of style leads to changes. From an ornate style that uses many patterns and shapes, to a more minimalistic and simple style. Of course, with a touch of nature that is brought indoors with the mid-century modern design style. With the help of plain, it appeals to many people that it becomes the mainstream style. It also influenced architects and designers such as

  • Ray and Charles Eames,

  • Frank Lloyd Wright,

  • Eero Saarinen,

  • and Isamu Noguchi.

They created some iconic homes and furniture pieces in mid-century modern design.

Exploring Mid-Century Modern Furniture

The first distinct feature of mid-century modern furniture is its use of natural material elements. For example, wood (teak, rosewood, and oak), stone, and linen in the design. It helps create a sense of warmth and authenticity in the design.

Sometimes, you can experiment with using other more modern materials. These experiments include using plastic, metal, glass, vinyl, and plywood. The use of these materials was caused by the mass production of these materials. With the right choice of complimentary pieces made from these unconventional materials, it brings a modern touch into the room.

Another distinct feature that mid-century modern design has is its implementation of clean lines and minimal fuss. Instead, we focus on large furniture, which in turn creates spare surfaces. The design also brings in some form of plants to help create the ambiance inside the room.

Eames lounge chairs are a classic piece of mid century modern design

Some well-known examples of mid-century modern furniture are Eames lounge chairs. This furniture combines wood and leather materials with metal to create a sense of warmth but is strong and elegant. Noguchi tables mix glass materials with wood that has organic shapes.

You can also find a mid-century modern touch in Saarinen tulip chairs. These chairs commonly use vibrant saturated colors with construction that flows organically.

Pros and cons of mid-century modern furniture

In considering the mid-century modern design, you need to know all the aspects. There are pros and cons in choosing furniture with mid-century modern design, which is:


  1. This design style has an appeal that is so timeless and enduring that it can effortlessly blend with various other styles.

  2. Mid-century modern style furniture is designed with functionality and comfort in mind. But, this style is not compromising aesthetics, so it still has a beautiful look to it.

  3. High-quality craftsmanship that often results in durable and long-lasting pieces.


  1. If you're drawn to intricate designs with ornate detailing, the mid-century modern style might not align with your preferences due to its intentional minimalism.

  2. Their availability is limited. This scarcity often leads enthusiasts to explore reproduction options.

  3. Given its origins in the mid-20th century, it's important to recognize that the design standards of that era might not seamlessly match modern ergonomic expectations.

Incorporating mid-century modern into contemporary spaces

At this point, you are interested in bringing one or two new mid-century modern pieces into your space. But you worry about whether it will fit into your existing contemporary space or not. To successfully incorporate mid-century modern style into your contemporary spaces, there are a few things you need to look out for.

Mix the old with the new

Make sure you mix your mid-century modern pieces with other contemporary elements that already exist within your space to go for a balanced look. Just make sure to be careful in choosing your pieces to not disturb the balance in your room.

An outdoor seating area with mid century modern design.

Don’t shy away from the spotlight

You can also showcase your mid-century modern pieces as the focal point in your room. Putting your mid-century modern pieces in the spotlight works well. The reason is that it has a unique design that is different from contemporary looks. It can also make it stand out in your room.

As long as you follow these tips and your senses, all your pieces will mix naturally. And in turn, you will get a space that you will be comfortable in and be satisfied with.

Sustainability and mid-century modern

Are you interested in sustainability? Choosing mid-century modern furniture is a smart move. Why? This style uses really good materials and is made with great care. That means the furniture is strong and lasts a long time. The materials are also natural, which is good for the environment if they're collected responsibly. And if the furniture ever needs to be replaced, the good materials can be recycled easily. So, going for mid-century modern furniture is a cool way to live sustainably.


Mid-century modern is a timeless style of design with simplicity in mind. It is achieved by using minimalist yet functional furniture. Then combine it with a clever play of colors. The result is life brought into any room you want. All of it is done without compromising aesthetics and comfort. Investing in any piece of mid-century modern furniture can also be a great way to support sustainability. It is sustainable because of its use of higher quality materials and better craftsmanship, making it durable and better to recycle. If mid-century modern interior design sparks your interest, you are in luck! Azula Designs specializes in this style - among many others. So if you want to transform your home into a mid-century masterpiece, just click the button below and speak to an interior designer today!

Image by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden
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