The mid-20th century was a time for abstract artwork, bold colors and funky furnishings. Graphic and bright paintings and mod furniture was all the rage. Today, incorporating the midcentury aesthetic is a way to inject a bit of retro spirit into a living space.
If you’re craving a trip down memory lane, or just desire the styles and shapes of a foregone era, here are some helpful tips and tricks for adding some nostalgic drama to your space:
A 1950s inspired living room is full of curvy chairs and neon notes. From a patterned purple and red rug to a futuristic cherry colored space chair, this room is filled with the ambiance of post-war design.
A seafoam kitchen screams old-school style. Glossy green cabinets and white plastic scoop chairs capture the essence of a Mad Men era cooking spot. An industrial retro pendant lamp adds an exclamation point on this retro-minded kitchen.
Classic vintage treasures are the perfect addition to a bedroom or office space with a midcentury aesthetic. From a retro hard sided suitcase to an old fashioned typewriter, this space is filled with timeless charm. A large colorful portrait adds vibrancy while a mint cabinet full of historic camera equipment imparts whimsical allure.
Add a splash of 1950s style to a basement or large living area with graphic paint colors and bright pops of color. Loud orange, yellow and red shades give this family spot a bit of fun flair while an arch floor lamp provides a bit of light and a dash of sentimentality for the Golden Age.
Guest Post by Amy Spagnola for LuxeDecor
1) Can Vintage be Mid-Century?
1) Sometimes. Only if the Vintage item was made between 1933 and 1965. (In that case Mid-Century would be more descriptive than the broader term 'Vintage’.)
2) Yes. Always.
Vintage describes any item 20 years or older. This is the definition we’ll use for the sake of this blog post. A stricter definition of Vintage means either an entire season of wine or grapes or a period or date of manufacture, for example ‘Vintage 1974’.
Mid-Century = Any item made between and in 1933 to 1965.
It is not until you append the ‘Modern’ after Mid-Century that Mid-Century moves from a set period of time to an actual Mid-Century Modern movement noted for the distinctive design of that period. So in essence something could be made outside of 1933 to 1965 and still be called Mid-Century Modern if it retains the distinctive Mid-Century Modern style.
And that is where Mid-Century Art Supergraphics come in!
Though technically not ‘Mid-Century’, Supergraphics can be labeled Mid-Century Modern because they exhibit the classic, understated look and clean lines that is Mid-Century Modern. Supergraphics pair so well with Mid-Century Architecture and Mid-Century Modern furniture because of these similarities.
Yes, if you read this far, this site should technically be called Mid Century Modern Art or Mid Century Modern Supergraphics but that domain name was just too long sorry =)
And now to use the terms we just learned here’s some ‘Vintage 1973’ Watermelon Supergraphics paired with a ‘Mid-Century Modern’ lounge chair in a ‘Mid-Century’ bedroom (the house was built in 1953):
Mid-Century Art Supergraphics was lucky to interview Victor Langer, designer of some of our favorite Supergraphics.
He designed these Orange Records:
Here's his Grasses in green:
Here's two cool Triptych shots of Victors' Arch and Snake designs from a vintage boutique in the Mission District of San Francisco:
Mid-Century Art has always wanted to find out how Supergraphics were made. Read on to find out!
An interview with Victor Langer of Langer Design:
How did you end up designing Graphilia Textile Supergraphics?
The creator of Graphilia (I forget his name) contacted me.
HOW did you design the graphics? Like on paper? How were the files stored, transferred to the silk screens etc? (I’m clueless)
I started with a small rough sketch. Then turned that into a full size paper design. Then did a rubylith or amberlith film over that: those are dual film sheets--a thin red or amber thin film laminated to a heavier clear film substrate; the red or amber film is translucent enough so that you can see your layout below but light-proof enough to read as black to photographic processes. So the top film is cut and removed using an Xacto knife and cutting compass. Then it is used to make the silkscreen, photographically and by direct contact. Positively prehistoric. But that's the way it was in "the days of B.C." (That's Before Computers, not Before Christ--a term I heard from another graphic designosaur.)
Was the 1970s fun? Were you in SF or Berkeley or _____? What was that like?
The 70s were a mixed bag. They had afterglow from the glorious (but tumultuous) 60s, but also a sense of the fading of the dream. I was in SF, but came to Berzerkley on occasion--once when I was there I had the pleasure of inhaling some teargas at a street demonstration. Drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll ruled. I liked the concerts in the park amid a marijuana haze.
Were there a lot of porcelain owls and birds and potted ferns?
Yes, and don't forget lava lamps, fondue sets, sideburns, and beanbag chairs.
Any favorite Mid-Century designs (see my most recent blog post)?
I like the Eiffel Side Chair with its geometrical base.
What the favorite design you have done? Any links to it?
Many of the logos on my website:
Are you married? Any other personal detail you’d like to add?
Not married officially, but live with my girlfriend of many years.
We just moved a few months ago to Berkeley after many years in SF.
Love Berkeley. Trees!!! It's great to be out of the city!!!
MidCenturtArt.com presents the top ten Mid-Century Modern Furniture Designs of all time!
Of course no one can make the definitive Mid Century Design top ten list. There are just too many iconic MCM classics! But everyone loves a good fun list, so here's our ten favorite MCM Masterpieces paired with 1970s Supergraphics.
In reverse order:
10) The Platform Bench
Originally designed by George Nelson you'll see this classic Mid-Century bench in lobbies, offices, and homes. In fact The Platform Bench was introduced in 1946 as part of Herman Miller's very first collection.
Here is the Platform Bench with Right Angle in Orange:
9) The Atomic or Ball Clock
George Nelson does it again, coming in at number 9 with another classic. The original Ball clock is a 1950s George Nelson design for Vitra. The clock was inspired by the space-age atomic period of the late 1940's.
The Nelson Ball Clock will NEVER go out of style. Especially if you pair it with a Red Weave:
8) Grand Confort Armchair Series
This list would not be complete with out Le Corbusier's Grand Confort arm chair series. No need to say much more than the three chairs in the Grand Confort series, LC2, LC2 & LC3, are a permanent installation at the Museum of Modern Art. Here's our favorite, the LC2, with Mid-Century Art Supergraphic Green Grasses sent in by one of our customers:
7) The Eiffel Side Chair
The Eames Molded Plastic & Fiberglass Armchair is a fiberglass chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames. The first Eiffel Side Chair, made of metal, was entered in MoMA’s 1948 International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design. In 1950, fiberglass was used to create the chairs, and todays' chairs are made from plastic.
Here is a fabulous upholstered Eiffel Side Chair reproduction from American Mobler at the Renegade Craft Fair next to a Braid Supergraphic:
6) Sputnik Chandeliers
Coming out of the Atomic Age and named after the the first satellite that ever orbited the earth, the Sputnik Chandelier is now ubiquitous on Houzz, Pinterest, and most all such design sites. And that's a good thing.
Here's a Sputnik Chandelier with Knot Supergraphic Set:
5) The Arc Floor Lamp
Another light just barely beat out Sputnik for the number 5 spot in our Mid-Century Modern Design Top Ten List. Sputnik may be a rising star, but the Chrome Arc Floor Lamp, like the Ball Clock, will NEVER go out of style.
Here is a stunning Arc Lamp with Rope Supergraphics (now available in Blue!):
4) Tulip Table and Chairs
If you've sat at a hipster bar, you've probably sat in a Tulip Bar Stool. Tulip Bar Stools, along with Tulip Tables, Tulip Side Tables, Tulip Coffee Tables and the like, originated from one dude! Eero Saarinen. The original Tulip Chair was designed in 1956 by Eero Saarinen for the Knoll Label.
Mid-Century Art has always had a penchant for the Tulip Table. Here's the most classic Tulip Table paired with Shadow Box:
3) The Egg Chair
This chair should probably not be number three but we're too big a fan of 1970s teenager movies, so many of which feature the iconic Egg™ Chair.
In "Dazed and Confused" Slater is sitting in one of the ubiquitous egg shaped chairs from the mid-70's. It probably had speakers inside the chair!
The Egg™ Chair was designed by Arne Jacobsen – the Daddy of Danish design and an enduring international icon. It’s iconic shape and high back makes for a little privacy and is therefore often found in public spaces.
Here's a Modern version of the Egg Chair in the display window of San Francisco's Zinc Details with Ripples in Green:
2) Danish Modern & The Credenza
Ok, two items is kind of cheating, but we figure enough credit can never be given to Arne Jacobsen, one of the founding fathers of Danish Modern Design. Often taken for granted, but a true cornerstone of Scandinavian Design, is the Danish Modern Credenza (also referred to as a Buffet or Sideboard). So coming in at number 2 we have the simple, elegant and unassuming Credenza!
Here's an extraordinary Teak Credenza by Danish designer Jens Quitsgaard paired with a Blue Tulip Supergraphic:
1) The Eames Lounge Chair
Ok People my birthday is June 27th! In your twenties you have an Eames 'Style' Lounge Chair. In your thirties you trade in your reproduction for an original. In your fifties you no longer tell everyone 'it's an original'. Yes, I skipped your forties. It takes two decades to lose the vanity induced by this much style and elegance in your very own living room. To say the least we are in love with the # 1 furniture design of all time...The Eames Lounge Chair!
Ray and Charles Eames saw something amazing happening in Europe starting with the Bauhaus Design movement and culminating in the Mid Century Modern movement. We are proud to have the crowning achievement of all Mid-Century Furniture designed by fellow Americans. Here's the Eames Lounge chair with Mountains & Lake Supergraphic 1981:
1970s Canvas Art Greens and Whites in Classic 70s Living Room
Every once in awhile a customer sends in a photo that affirms why Mid-Century Art exists. This living room is classic 1970s. From the Barrel Chairs to the potted ceramic tortoise we're instantly transported back to the seventies. The Green and White hues are also classic 70s. Thanks Richard from Denver for making our day here at Mid-Century Art Supergraphics!
I'm no artist, I could never sketch a portrait, but I can put colors together well. I think my strong design sense stems from being giving plenty of creative space as a child. That and a few sincere compliments along the way. Thanks mom! Happy Mother's Day!
This is 1981, so as close to Mid-Century Art as I ever got =)
It's great to be working with bold colors and designs again!
Isn't it the coolest thing ever that our very own web hosting company picked up a few Supergraphics for their offices. Such nice digs!
CONGRATS Weebly.com on your continued success. It's no accident of course. We love how Weebly stays just ahead of the curve, with continued improvements such as their store and now an easy to use Blog. Keep up the amazing work! And we hope to visit your offices again. If I was a 9 to 5 guy this is where I'd want to work. Its been awhile since I forehand slammed a ping-pong ball into the DJ Booth.
Happy Easter from Treasure Island Flea booth 408!
Bring your wife, bring your kids, bring your dog. Best view in town! And great food too! Last weekend of every month.
By far the coolest thing to happen to Mid Century Art was to get to see a few Supergraphics in the amazing San Francisco Schiff House designed by the Mid-Century Modern master himself Richard Neutra.
For more info on the famous Schiff house from our very own Curbed San Francisco please see Richard Neutra-Designed Duplex in the Marina for $3.95 Mil.
Man, I bought my first genuine Mid-Century piece of furniture from Mid Century Møbler when they were selling out of a rented garage in SF. And now they have a 7500 sq foot warehouse in Berkeley!
This Midcentury-Loving Couple Makes a Time Capsule in Oakland article in Curbed SF is amazing. Very excited for Mid Century Møbler's success! What a cool house!
Michael Cahn loves Mid-Century Modern Design.