Mid-Century Modern - Designed Then. Relevant Now.

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Today more than ever, mid-century modern design is everywhere. It is a term that describes mid-20th century developments in interior design, product, graphic design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965. Most of the designs of mid-century had gone out of fashion by the late 60s, but in the early to mid-eighties, interest in the period began to return. Commonly used materials and finishes in mid-century modern homes make liberal use of wood, metal, glass and lucite. It is common to see a vast range of colors—anything from neutral to bold, to black and white.

There are so many things about this design genre that draw me in. This style consists of a classic, understated look with clean and minimal lines. Distinguishing features include:

  • Functionality. It is of upmost importance, as form follows function.
  • Simple and sleek lines mixing both organic and geometric shapes and patterns.
  • Minimal ornamentation.
  • Juxtaposition. The use of contrasting patterns and materials is common.

What is most fascinating to me is that the same styles that were popular when my grandparents were roughly my age, are still being manufactured and sold at premium prices today! It is a true testament that good design withstands the test of time. With so much thought put behind the “function” of a mid-century modern home or piece of furniture, it proves that design built with a purpose in mind will always be relevant and properly serve the needs of consumers no matter the decade.

To demonstrate this point, I had the privilege of visiting and photographing a mid-century modern home in Indianapolis, Indiana that was built in 1958, filled with classic and original 1950s and 1960s iconic furniture pieces, and then paying a visit to a local Knoll furniture dealer, RJE Business Interiors, supplying businesses and high-end home offices today with the same iconic pieces.

 Original Bertoia Bird Chair in residence

Original Bertoia Bird Chair in residence

 Classic Knoll chairs at RJE Business Interiors

Classic Knoll chairs at RJE Business Interiors

This home was designed by an Indiana native, Evans Woollen III, known for much of what Indianapolis looks like today. He is responsible for the city’s most distinctive 20th century buildings. This gem was purchased in 2000 by a mid-century modern purist; someone who is a former Creative Director of Showroom Design for Herman Miller, a company synonymous with modern design. Today, he is the owner of Design Studio Vriesman, and prides himself in creating classically modern spaces of timeless simplicity; exactly what he has done with his own home. With just 2,400 square feet, the I-shaped home is modest by today’s standards, but provides his family with all of the necessary function for efficient living. Enjoy this photo tour below of some of this genre's most well-known designers.

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After paying visit to this stunningly beautiful and modern residence that is as true as mid-century modern design gets, it was as if nearly 60 years had stood still entering RJE Business Interiors' showroom, where some of the same furniture pieces sat on display. These striking lines and clean textiles used in homes decades ago, are being designed for new work and living spaces alike today! Please take a little tour of RJE's gorgeous showroom. 

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A special thank you to Design Studio Vriesman and RJE Business Interiors, for allowing me to photograph their respective spaces that I deeply admire. For more modern design inspired topics, make sure to visit my blog, Mod Abode, and follow me on Instagram and Facebook!