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Mid-century modern: what it is and how to “build it»

In recent years, many cafes, photo studios and art spaces have opened, where elements of mid-century flash through the atmosphere. The past and the future are harmoniously combined in this interior style from the middle of the last century. How does it manage to look modern in 2019? Let’s take a closer look at mid-century and see how to recreate this environment on the basis of the Russian interior.

Birth of stars
Mid-century was born in a difficult time for society, in the period from the 30s to the 60s of the last century. New moods and hopes for a peaceful future explain the emergence of an emphasis on simplicity and comfort in architecture and interior design, a desire to combine living space with the environment. Artists and architects sought to ease the stress of structures without losing functionality.
Let’s find out how this multi-faceted and deeply philosophical style was formed and whether its elements will find a place in a modern interior.

After the end of the Second world war, there was an acute shortage of expensive natural materials, but there were already an abundance of new ones, such as plastic and plywood.
New construction technologies and new materials significantly influenced the creative search and decisions of artists in the middle of the last century. Plastic attracted because of its own qualities, and not as a substitute for wooden furniture. It was used to make chair backs and seats that were amazing in shape, as well as lampshades, and plywood replaced wood and was more convenient for making smooth, rounded shapes.

Mid-century, with an eye on national differences, was well known in the USSR. Mid-century interiors have been shown in cinema and at international exhibitions, and now nostalgic generations are returning to its canons.

Mid-century ingredients

American suburbs grew, and “one-story America” was born. Flat, geometrically strict houses grew cantilevered floors, a kind of “deck”, arguing with gravity.

The division of living space into zones and sectors disappeared, and Windows appeared, making the border between the house and the environment conditional.
Palm springs houses — a distinctive, recognizable mid-century, stand on the carpet of the lawn, look at the world with huge Windows, next to a smooth rectangle of the pool.

The human habitation of the new era has ceased to look like an anthill and has turned into a box that is visible from all sides, filled with air and bright spots of art objects.


Welcome to the inside. Colors in the interior range from bright to muted and earthy. The legs of the chairs parted slightly under the weight of new hopes, and the wooden frames of the chairs and sofas were covered with soft pillows and armrests. Coffee tables look like inverted bowls, dining tables are oval, triangular — any geometry, but always with a smooth, friendly smooth edge. Leather chairs have got additional Ottomans. Ficuses in heavy ceramic pots – nature, invited to the human home.Everything here is suitable for work and leisure, for reflection… but also for parties.

The flexibility of plastic and plywood made it possible to produce furniture with natural, rounded shapes.Also widely used: metal, glass, vinyl, Lucite, dark wood and materials that made the interior democratic: cork and laminate.

“Mid-century modern” at your home

The main thing in mid-century is space. This style blurs the boundaries in the interior. If the apartment as a whole is not allowed to violate privacy (we leave doors not only in the bathroom and toilet, but also in the bedroom, children’s room), then the main principle can be implemented in the living room, combining it with the dining room and/or kitchen area. Cabinets are superfluous, it is more appropriate to have a few massive shelves or minimalistic racks. Carpets are acceptable, but bare parquet (or laminate) will not spoil the experience.

Well forgotten old

On international sites-auctions, online services, antique stores, or at home on the mezzanine, you can find meeting the requirements of radiolights, floor lamps and coffee tables, all their types refer to the good old “mid-century art Nouveau”.

It is not necessary that these are things with American history, the Soviet retro of the 50s of the last century is also suitable.
But don’t get carried away! In order not to accidentally copy the living room of the grandfather-Professor, remember that many modern brands produce furniture that will perfectly fit into the situation. We are interested in: soft outline of the backs, hard wooden handles. Well, if you can find chairs with characteristically spaced legs, as if the chair slightly sagged under the weight of the owner.

Other style ingredients include low coffee tables, a carpet with a geometric contrasting pattern or a strict fractal pattern.
Curtains in the classic sense will weaken the effect of “aquarium”, if necessary, they should be replaced with laconic curtains.

Accent walls

For an accent wall, deep olive or “coconut shell color”, fashionable “wasabi”, “pink Flamingo”, “bitter lemon”will be suitable.

Wallpaper print for accent wall: stylized plant, geometric shapes (usually: different versions of circles and squares with smoothed corners).


One of the features of this Mid-century is a variety of fixtures. In addition to their main function, they play the role of art objects, that’s where you can let your imagination run wild! Choosing chandeliers and lamps, do not neglect the bright plastic and spheres of thick paper, let the lamps resemble space stations or satellites, flying saucers or exploding stars.

Let’s see what color is capable of in the interior on the example of 3 unexpected color schemes.


The walls can be decorated with posters in the style of pop art, a clock or a mirror that resembles a Golden sun. on a coffee table or shelf, it is appropriate to place a three-dimensional ceramic vase, live plants and retro decor: a tape recorder, a typewriter, etc.

During creative searches, remember: mid-century art Nouveau is always a sense of proportion, good taste and absolute comfort.

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