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Exploring Authentic Mid-Century Modern Design, Fashion and Rugs
The mid-century modern style is once again gracing the pages of home decor magazines and lifestyle websites. Mid-century modern rugs and home furnishings are finding their way into contemporary styles from retro interiors to minimalist. The term “mid-century modern” seems to get thrown around a lot, and there is no denying that it is making a comeback. Authentic, Mid-century vintage rugs are an important component for achieving the authentic look and feel of this style.
Lets delve a bit deeper into the fascinating world of mid-century modern rugs
What is a Mid-Century Modern Rug?
A rug would be considered to be mid-century modern if it was produced during the mid 20th century.
A “mid-century modern rug” also refers to a type of area rug or carpet design that is inspired by the design aesthetics of the mid-20th century, particularly the period from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. This design and area rug style is known for its simplicity, clean lines, and focus on functionality, and it has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years.
Key characteristics of mid-century modern rugs include:
- Geometric Patterns: Mid-century modern rugs often feature bold and geometric patterns, such as abstract shapes, triangles, chevrons, and diamonds. These patterns add a dynamic and visually appealing element to the rug.
- Earthy and Vibrant Colors: The color palette used in mid-century modern rugs typically includes earthy tones like mustard yellow, olive green, burnt orange, and shades of brown, as well as vibrant colors like teal, turquoise, and bright red.
- Minimalist Design: Mid-century modern rugs embrace a minimalist design philosophy, avoiding excessive ornamentation and unnecessary details. The focus is on simplicity and clean aesthetics.
- Natural Materials: Mid-century modern rugs are often made from natural materials like wool, cotton, or jute. These rug weaving materials add texture and warmth to the rug.
- Iconic Designers: Some mid-century modern rugs and carpets are designed by iconic designers from the mid-20th century, adding to their historical and collectible value.
- Versatility: Mid-century modern rugs are versatile and can complement a range of interior design styles, including contemporary, Scandinavian, and bohemian.
The MCM rugs are not only functional floor coverings but also considered pieces of art that can enhance the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of a room. They are well-suited for adding a retro or vintage touch to modern living spaces and have become sought-after elements in interior design due to their timeless appeal and artistic value.
What is the Mid-Century Modern Era Style?
The mid-century modern era was an artistic movement that dominated interior design and architecture from around 1940 until the late 1960’s. Still, some define the period to continue as late as the latter half of the 1970’s.
Although the official span of the mid-century modern era is over 25 years, today, people commonly use the term to refer to the styles and design approaches of the 1950’s and 1960’s. These styles include Eames, Danish modern, space-age, and atomic ranch.
What defines the Mid-Century Modern Era Style?
The Mid-Century Modern (MCM) era style is a design movement that emerged in the mid-20th century, roughly spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s. It is characterized by a specific set of design principles and aesthetics that continue to influence contemporary design.
Here are some key features that define the Mid-Century Modern era style:
- Clean Lines: Mid-century modern design emphasizes clean, straight lines. Furniture, architecture, and other design elements often feature crisp, uncluttered lines that contribute to a sense of simplicity and functionality.
- Functional Form: Functionality is a central tenet of Mid-Century Modern design. Furniture and architectural elements are designed with a purpose, and unnecessary ornamentation is often eschewed in favor of practicality.
- Integration with Nature: There is a strong connection to nature in Mid-Century Modern design. This is often expressed through large windows that bring the outdoors inside, as well as the use of natural materials such as wood and stone.
- Geometric Shapes: Mid-century modern design incorporates geometric shapes, including clean curves and asymmetrical forms. This can be seen in furniture, lighting fixtures, and architectural details.
- Use of Modern Materials: Designers of this era embraced new materials and manufacturing techniques. Common materials include molded plywood, fiberglass, metal, and plastic. These materials were often used to create innovative and organic shapes.
- Open Floor Plans: Mid-century modern architecture often features open floor plans that promote a sense of flow and connection between different living spaces. This openness was a departure from more traditional, compartmentalized layouts.
- Bold Colors: While the color palette of Mid-Century Modern design can vary, bold and vibrant colors are often used. These can include shades of orange, green, and blue. Earthy tones and neutrals are also prevalent.
- Iconic Furniture Designs: The era produced many iconic furniture designs that are still celebrated today. Examples include the Eames Lounge Chair, Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe, and the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen.
- Asymmetry and Balance: Asymmetrical arrangements and a balance of form and function are key aspects of Mid-Century Modern design. This creates a visual harmony that is both interesting and pleasing.
- Minimalism: While not strictly minimalist, Mid-Century Modern design shares some principles with minimalism. The focus on simplicity, functionality, and the use of clean lines contributes to a sense of visual simplicity.
The Mid-Century Modern style has enduring popularity due to its timeless and adaptable qualities. It has influenced subsequent design movements and continues to be a source of inspiration for contemporary designers.
What are the Roots of Mid-Century Rugs?
The roots of mid-century modern furniture and carpet designs began with the German Bauhaus and International movements. New materials were introduced and wall-to-wall carpeting became popular. Colorful area rugs were used as a layer to add interest. Often, mid-century modern designers would create an entirely matched suite that included the furniture, accessories, tapestries, and a rug to match.
Sometimes, they would create just a rug that you could mix and match, but many of the surviving mid-century modern rugs that we have today were once part of a matched set. Depending on the designer or artist, they can be highly collectible.
What Are Mid-Century Modern Art Rugs?
Rugs that featured reproductions of the works of famous artists were a major trend in rug making during the mid century era. These artists laid the foundation of what would explode into the “atomic” age and 1960’s pop art culture. The most influential artists of the time included Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. These works of art found their way onto rugs as a piece of artwork for the floor.
When it comes to interior design, the iconic designs of Charles and Ray Eames defined the era. Eames furniture has a simple and unobtrusive style. The curvy backs and seats soften the lines of mid-century modern rooms.
Area rugs were created to complement these style trends and were considered to be an essential element in interior design. Rugs played an important role in Eames era room design and often served as a point of contrast to the furniture.
Mid-century modern area rugs, have been popular for several reasons:
- Timeless Appeal: Mid-century modern design has a timeless quality that continues to captivate people. The clean lines, simple shapes, and minimalist approach to design appeal to those seeking a classic and enduring aesthetic.
- Versatility: Mid-century modern design elements, including area rugs, are known for their versatility. These pieces often feature neutral colors and geometric patterns that can complement a wide range of interior styles, making them adaptable to various decor preferences.
- Nostalgia and Retro Trend: There has been a resurgence of interest in retro and vintage styles, and mid-century modern design perfectly fits into this trend. People are drawn to the nostalgic feel of mid-century aesthetics, whether they have a personal connection to that era or appreciate its design principles.
- Quality and Craftsmanship: Many mid-century modern pieces, including rugs, were crafted with attention to quality and craftsmanship. As consumers place greater emphasis on well-made and durable items, the enduring appeal of mid-century modern designs becomes more pronounced.
- Focus on Sustainable Design: Mid-century modern design often aligns with principles of simplicity and functionality, which are integral to sustainable design. As environmental consciousness grows, people are drawn to designs that emphasize quality over quantity and have a reduced environmental impact.
- Popularity in Interior Design: Interior designers and influencers often showcase mid-century modern elements in their projects, influencing trends and creating a demand for related products like area rugs. Social media platforms and design blogs play a significant role in popularizing these trends.
- Availability and Reproductions: The popularity of mid-century modern design has led to an increased availability of reproductions and inspired pieces. This makes it easier for people to incorporate mid-century modern elements into their homes, including rugs, without the need for vintage or authentic pieces.
It’s important to note that design trends can evolve, and popularity may shift over time. For the most current information on design trends, it’s advisable to check recent sources or consult with interior design professionals.
Who were Charles and Ray Eames?
Charles and Ray Eames were a husband-and-wife design team who made significant contributions to modern architecture and furniture. They were influential American designers, architects, and filmmakers. Charles Ormond Eames (1907–1978) was an architect by training, while Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Kaiser Eames (1912–1988) was an artist.
The Eameses are best known for their groundbreaking contributions to the fields of industrial design, architecture, and furniture design. They are particularly famous for their innovative use of materials, such as molded plywood and fiberglass, to create stylish and functional furniture.
One of their most iconic and enduring designs is the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, which was introduced in 1956 and is considered a classic of mid-20th-century modern furniture design. The chair and ottoman are known for their elegant and comfortable design.
In addition to their work in furniture design, the Eameses also made significant contributions to architecture. They were involved in the design of low-cost housing and other architectural projects. Their interest in design extended to film as well, and they produced a number of short films, including the famous “Powers of Ten.”
The Eameses’ work is celebrated for its innovative approach to design, blending function with aesthetics and incorporating new materials and technologies. Their influence continues to be felt in the world of design and architecture, and their designs remain highly sought after and admired today.
Mid-Century Modern Swedish Rya Rugs and Shag Carpets
Another important design trend in mid-century modern interiors were hand-knotted Swedish Rya Rugs. These traditional rugs had been produced by Scandinavian countries for centuries, but they found new life during the mid-century when they became known as shag carpets. This name refers to the shaggy appearance and plush soft texture that is a result of a pile that is thicker and left longer than traditional pile carpets.
The vintage shag rugs were originally made using traditional techniques, but in the mid 20th century, they started showing the iconic “mod” style. The “mod” designs included geometric and abstract shapes in vibrant, and sometimes quite surprising, color combinations. The designs were often simple and focused on form and shape.
The mid-century modern home decor movement eliminated anything that was not absolutely necessary in the room. Curvy rounded rug designs were meant to add contrast to the linear, streamlined furniture. They added depth and texture to the design and were used to draw attention to the clean lines of the other elements of the room. You could often find Swedish Rya Rugs underneath the open legs of coffee tables, television sets, or in front of furniture and architectural features such as fireplaces.
The open space underneath the furniture was the perfect way to emphasize colorful, mid-century modern rugs. An authentic mid-century rug is an excellent addition to a modern version of a retro room. However, these valuable vintage pieces can also be used to recreate the feeling and character of the era.
Vintage mid-century modern area rugs can add an authentic feel to the room and work well with more recent style trends. It works because contemporary designs have their roots in mid-century modern ideals. At the Nazmiyal Collection, we are pleased to offer a selection of authentic mid-century carpets that will complement a range of vintage and modern design trends. Feel free to look around. You just might find the perfect piece to satisfy your mid-century longings.
Why is mid century modern design called space age?
The term “Space Age” in the context of design is often associated with the mid-century modern design movement. The period between the 1940s and 1960s, which aligns with the mid-century modern era, coincided with a time of great interest and enthusiasm for space exploration and the possibilities of the future. This was notably fueled by the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Several factors contribute to the association of mid-century modern design with the “Space Age”:
- Futuristic Aesthetics: Mid-century modern design often embraced clean lines, geometric shapes, and a minimalist aesthetic. Furniture and objects designed during this period often had a sleek and futuristic look, resembling the imagined aesthetics of space exploration.
- Materials and Technology: The use of new materials and technologies in design, such as molded plywood, fiberglass, and plastic, reflected the optimism and innovation of the time. These materials were not only novel but also symbolized progress and modernity.
- Influence of Science Fiction: The popularity of science fiction during the mid-20th century, both in literature and film, contributed to the Space Age aesthetic. The designs often echoed the streamlined and space-themed imagery found in sci-fi literature and movies.
- Space Exploration: The concurrent developments in space exploration and the successful launch of the first artificial satellites and human spaceflights inspired a sense of wonder and fascination with the cosmos. This enthusiasm for space exploration had a cultural impact, influencing various aspects of design and popular culture.
- Architectural Innovations: Architects and designers were experimenting with new architectural forms, inspired in part by the idea of futuristic and space-age living. Open floor plans, large windows, and a connection between indoor and outdoor spaces became prominent features of mid-century modern architecture.
Overall, the term “Space Age” is a retrospective characterization of the design aesthetic of the mid-century modern era, capturing the zeitgeist of a time when society was captivated by the possibilities of space exploration and the promise of a technologically advanced future.
Mid Century Modern Design: The Future is Now
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.
The effects of this shift are best illustrated by the so called “Space Race,” which refers to the USA 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.
Aesthetically, the mid century modern design 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.
Area carpets and rugs were not immune from the mid century modern design 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.
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.