The mid-century furniture trend is huge right now, but before you go 1950s mad, there are a couple of things you need to know. It’s so easy to get excited when you find the perfect egg chair or 1950s coffee table, but how can you be sure that what you’re buying is the real deal? We asked mid-century aficionado Carol-Anne Lydon, of CA Design, to tell us everything we need to know about mastering mid-century.
1. Defining what exactly mid-century is
“Mid-century designers were modernists who transformed design from the adorned, classical style of the time to a look that embodied simplicity, functionality and comfort. High-quality, mid-century modern pieces manufactured today should clearly showcase the sleek lines and sculpted elements that are a defining characteristic of the mid-century period. ”
2. What to look for in authentic pieces
“Pre-owned, mid-century furniture will have minor wear and tear but should stand solidly, the joints should be well constructed and (if it’s a chair) the seat shouldn’t have too many scratches or marks. Re-upholstery is expensive for vintage pieces so you might be better off with a new piece that has been inspired from the era and then choose the exact materials you want.”
3. Good as new
“Nowadays there’s no need to buy a piece made mid-century as all the iconic pieces have been adapted by current designers and suppliers. You can find stunning replicas that might better suit your lifestyle and budget, especially if you have colour palettes in mind and need a specific piece to fit in. Charles and Ray Eames for example, designed their lounge chair and ottoman in 1956 in rosewood with upholstered black leather cushioning. Our replicas at CA Design are true to the original, but made with other woods and Italian leather, which might better suit some interiors and also adapt to slightly smaller dimensions.”
4. Avoid buyer’s remorse
“This is probably the most important point. There are so many cheap, poor quality reproductions of mid-century furniture on the market today, so be very mindful when you’re doing your research. For example, you might come across one Eames-style dining chair for €80 and another for €200, so there’s clearly a quality issue there. Make sure you see the piece in the flesh and not just a photo online as photos can be very misleading. So often we meet customers who have bought cheap versions first thinking it’s more cost effective and then find the piece doesn’t last and end up coming to us and buying a new piece. We use high-quality leathers and fabrics and have rigorous quality control system so everything is checked before leaving the factory.”
5. Material world
“New methods of construction and new materials influenced the mid-century modern designers, so be inspired by (rather than afraid of) materials such as resin, plywood and wire mesh. Plastic, for example, was used for its own qualities rather than to imitate wooden furniture. One of my favourite pieces is Eero Saarinen’s Tulip table, which is made of cast aluminium and fibreglass, finished with a white plastic coating.
6. Mix it up
“If you create a scheme in a singular era you’ll create a forced or museum feel. Mid-century pieces boast an unfussy, timeless appeal that easily allows them to coexist beautifully with other styles.Invest and you won’t regret it.”