The Home of Tomorrow: History of Mid Century Modern Design

Mid Century Modern Design: The Future is Now

Mid Century Modern Design — When interior designers refer to “Mid Century Modern” design, they are referring to an aesthetic style based around the idea of streamlining everyday life using technology that was immensely popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s in the United States and Europe. After World War II, the industrialized nations of the world believed that the future success of their governments were heavily dependent on their ability to implement and adapt to changing technologies, and began to place a high emphasis on engineering, mechanization, and computer science.

Mid Century Modern Design Nazmiyal
A magazine clipping, circa 1960, illustrating the proposed computerization of education.

The effects of this shift are best illustrated by the so called “Space Race,” which refers to the U.S and the Soviet Union’s competitive goal of being the first nation to successfully send a shuttle into orbit, but the emphasis on new technologies extended far beyond the countries’ space programs: In Europe and America, a higher emphasis was being placed on teaching math and science to children, to prepare them to be future innovators.

The American public was incredibly inspired by these ideas of a high-tech future, and the ripple effects of the Space Race echoed throughout culture: Almost every aspect of design in America was subject to a “modern” makeover, resulting in homes and domestic objects that looked like they were plucked straight from an episode of The Jetsons.

Nazmiyal Mid Century Modern Design
Illustration of “Home of Tomorrow” Design, circa 1960.

Aesthetically, the mid century modern craze was characterized by an emphasis on fabricating objects from futuristic materials, like chrome, lucite, and other plastics. “Martian” color schemes, including other-worldly, chemically produced hues like burnt orange, acid green, and luminous violet became de rigueur. Cars, home appliances, and furniture took on the smooth curves and aerodynamic lines of space shuttles. Even fashion started taking notes from NASA, with Haute Couture designers like Paco Rabanne, André Courrèges, and Pierre Cardin constructing luxury apparel fit for an astronaut.

Mid Century Modern Design Nazmiyal
Space-Age fashion by Pierre Cardin and Andre Courreges.

Carpets and rugs were not immune from the trend, and took color and patterning cues from the astronomical zeitgeist of the day: Mathematical tessellations, lava-like curves, and spacey bubbles and stars began cropping up in the rugs of the era’s most stylish homeowners.

Vintage Scandinavian Rya Rug 45650
Vintage Mid-Century Modern Scandinavian Rya Rug 45650

Jumping back to 2015, the Mid Century Modern look is experiencing a massive comeback in interior design. Perhaps it’s because we’ve entered a new Space Age of sorts, with the powers of the internet and computer technology digitizing almost every aspect of our lives; or, perhaps the curvy, minimalist style of the 1950’s and 1960’s simply goes well with contemporary designs, which also place an emphasis on graceful forms and user-optimization. Either way, these beautiful vintage rugs look just as modern as they did when they first premiered, half a century ago.

Below are Several Examples of Mid Century Modern Rugs from the Nazmiyal Collection:

Vintage Swedish Rya Rug Marta Maas Fjatterstorm 46888
Vintage Swedish Rya Rug Marta Maas Fjatterstorm 46888
Vintage Swedish Deco Rug By Verner Panton 46612
Vintage Swedish Deco Rug By Verner Panton 46612
Vintage Scandinavian Swedish Rya Rug 47782
Vintage Scandinavian Swedish Rya Rug 47782