The phrase is quick to conjure up designers Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen or the Featherston name more locally, aligning with exploration of mass production and the essential importance of human use. We’re also thanking mid-century modern for an architectural style characterised by glass, timber paneling and a connection to nature.
“The details are not the details, they make the design,” mid-century monarch Charles Eames once said. And with this approach, Charles and Ray Eames became the household names of the mid-century style and movement appreciated globally. The term envelops a scope of design from the middle of the 20th century, as part of a larger modernist movement that set out to find smarter ways of doing things, with less. Born out of Bauhaus, mid-century design was fuelled by new technologies and materials and a change in the way we live.
At est we see strands of mid-century modern through homes not strictly confined to the movement, but certainly resonating with its famed aesthetic principles. Be it the gentle organic curves, geometric forms, exploration of colour and liberal use of wood or non-traditional materials; they all share a common ground of functionality, first and foremost. We’ve put together five of our favourite homes that fall under the mid-century modern banner, drawing on the classic concepts and golden objects that have endured the test of time.
Loft Kolasinski are veterans to the mid-century modern approach. Their designs are distinct for paying homage to vintage design, by fusing together original and reclaimed ideas – paving the way for an eccentric and cohesive interior inside House in Podogno. The Polish apartment brings together unique mid-century finds restored by Loft Kolasinski, alongside Loft Kolasinski’s own bespoke wooden furniture.
Our eyes instantly wander to the plump blue sofa and proud armchairs, that draw on the palette of two film posters by Ewa Bajek from Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 1980s Polish television films. By collaborating with collectors and restorers, the apartment is marked by an appreciation of individual character, charm and meticulous attention to detail.
Located in Antwerp, the MK House was lucky to land on the drawing board of Brussels-based designer Nicolas Schoebrook. Nicolas Schoebrook recognised both the need for exploration and simplicity as integral design elements to this 1800s home, revealed in the understated opulence of exposed wooden beams, distressed chevron oak floors and plenty of honed marble.
Each space is balanced with an array of mid-century furniture pieces, such as the oversized curved sofa by American furniture designer Vladimir Kagan and the dark webbed lounge chair by architect and furniture maker Georg Nakashima. The iconic Gio Ponti dining chairs and Serge Mouille lamps also make an appearance, in spaces that leave a lasting impression for their sense of warmth and history.
The Privat Apartment in Milan by Quincoces Drago skews to the minimalist end of mid-century modern homes. The pared-back apartment is a canvas that emphasises function, simple geometric forms and earthy colours – best seen in the living space. The home is dressed in an array of fine craftsmanship such as the Pierre Jeanneret Chair, wood panelling and brass fixtures and fittings.
Doing their best for the apartment to remain clutter-free, Quincoces Drago have added every item with a purpose — including a fresh hint of foliage. In a colourful display of mid-century modern origins, a fluorescent orange and pink artwork rests easy with deep browns and velvety olive green.
Emmanuel de Bayser needed a calm and soulful place to host his collection of modernist furniture. This 19th century Berlin Apartment and its five-metre high ceilings was just it, saturated in natural tones and nostalgic primary shades that speak to a myriad of textures. Emmanuel de Bayser’s enviable assemblage includes the Polar Bear suite by Jean Royere sitting proudly with the Meribel Stool by Cassina tucked by its side. The Compas Direction Desk and Standard Chair by Jean Prouve as well as the leathery green Pierre Jeanneret Chair also join the formidable crowd. Just as its owner describes, this Berlin apartment is a timeless example of contrast, personality and comfort embodied by the objects within.
Now for a local favourite. This Mid-century modern Melbourne home lacked no authenticity, first designed by renowned modernist architect Harry Ernest. But while its mid-century origins were deep-rooted, it hadn’t had a lot of love over recent decades. That was until local architect Ben Robertson vowed to celebrate the original mid-century features and bring the home to a whole new legion of contemporary admirers.
Bright blue shades are a constant thread throughout and pay tribute to the home’s narrative, with the ribbed beauty of walnut joinery and matte gold hardware. Appeasing textures and bold colour also shines proudly through the vibrant artworks, while the home maintains its connection with the outdoors through steel-framed doors. It’s a facelift that doesn’t forget the significance of its foundations.