Mid-Century Modern is all the rage right now. Clean lines and sleek silhouettes characterize pieces made during the middle of the 20th century, but form certainly doesn't trump function when it comes to these gems. Function was as important as form in Mid-Century designs, with an emphasis placed specifically on targeting the needs of the average American family.
Natural materials were an important part of Mid-Century furniture, as homes being built during this time showcased nature by incorporating large glass walls, floor to ceiling windows, and open spaces. Wood pieces were simply finished to showcase their natural beauty. Metal accents including brass, chrome, and bronze abound, even in the subtlest ways.
I recently stopped in to Liberty & 33rd Furniture Co in down town South Bend, IN to talk all things Mid-Century with owner Adam Cramer. We got right down to brass tacks and discussed why certain pieces are priced significantly higher than others. Of course condition and style are important factors, but so is provenance. Adam explained the difference between pieces that are marked and unmarked. If a piece is stamped, you know for certain who the manufacturer is and if it is signed, you know who the designer of the piece is. These marks affect the price a great deal. When you're shopping, look for marks on the inside of drawers or on the back of furniture. We came across a dresser with a stamp indicating it was made by Drexel and designed by Kipp Stewart. That means it's easier to determine its value and desirability.
We also looked at a chic Barcelona chair made from chrome and leather. This style of chair was originally designed for Knoll by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, an important German figure in the Mid-Century design movement. It's good to note that popular pieces like this can command higher prices if they are marked. While this piece may be vintage, if it's not marked, it is described as "in the style of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe," and the price should not be the same as a marked piece. That's another great tip--if you're on a budget but still want that high end style, look for pieces that aren't marked. You'll get a better price and still walk away with a stylish piece.
Mid-Century lighting is another hot sector in the design world right now. From lamps to chandeliers, these funky fixtures add character and a bit of whimsy to a space. Look for materials such as smoked glass, crystal, chrome and brass. Don't be afraid to mix these lighting pieces with traditional decor or even in classic pre-20th century spaces.
Still want more Mid-Century Modern? Head over to Liberty & 33rd!