You’ve finished school. You’ve done the long hours for low pay. You’ve put in your time and now things are starting to look like what you sort of imagined they would when you finally became a proper adult. This next part may be tough to hear: You are now probably too old for Ikea.
I understand why it’s hard to process. Ikea was the place you went when you could finally afford to step it up from milk crate furnishing. You could shop for the living room and procure a two dollar dinner all in one spot. It was cheap, and there was so much of it on Craigslist. And, of course, in the end, you finally felt like you had a comfortable place of your own, even if it did look a touch like everybody else’s.
However, I promise you the next stage is going to be even better. It’s when you get to find that really awesome piece and assemble a room around it. It’s when you get to make a space that reflects who you are and what you care about. It’s when you get to build a personal style. And, it’s when you get to make your friends so totally jealous because they haven’t even heard of Eames, never mind having a clue where you scored that amazing Eames Lounge and Ottoman that they never want to get out of. Trust me, that last part is about to happen.
Just to be sure, though, I’ve put together a helpful seven-point list to truly assess if it’s officially time to populate Craigslist with your Ikea collection and pass it down to the next generation.
I mean dinner parties, not potluck dinners. If you’re newly past your Ikea best before date the distinction can seem subtle, but I assure you it’s not. A dinner party is where you arrange the food. You don’t have to cook it, but you have to choose it and you have to pay for it. You are the host. This also means you set the time, you plan the wines to match the food, and you decide if you want to provide desert or invite one of the guests to handle that part. I suggest you have a look a Tulip dining table paired with an Eames DSR Side Chair. It’s a classy way to seat up to eight people, and comfortable enough to allow the conversation to carry on.
It’s something that happens almost without you noticing. Usually, you find a bottle you like and think, I’ll get a couple just so I have it on hand. The next thing you know there are 10 bottles in the cellar, pardon me, in the linen closet and you start selecting which bottles you’ll share with which friends. Similar to the dinner party, stockpiling wine is one of the early warning signs that you are too old for mass produced particle board furniture.
This is a rite of passage. It’s something you don’t anticipate and then you notice you’re doing it and you are not sure when you started. It’s a sign that you are beginning to value your space in a new way. It shows you’re ready to invest in some truly inspired pieces and that you plan to care for and build on those pieces. If you are the first of your friends to enter this new stage in life you will sustain some light mocking, but I promise, they are not far behind. I suggest you have a look at the Barcelona Coffee Table, it’s a perfect piece to start with as it’s subtle design denotes unrivaled elegance and yet it plays brilliantly with the older not-so-inspired furniture - also, it can handle your uncivilized, non-coaster using, friends.
This sign is hard to refute. You care about what your space looks like. You’re trying to make it a reflection of your style and tell everyone who visits that you have given the arrangement some thought. The trouble is, as I’m sure you’ve realized, cookie-cutter furniture - whether in birch or oak - will never make any sort of statement. At best it will blend into the background allowing those first pieces of your new too old for Ikea stage to make a prominent showing. I suggest starting with something like the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman or the Florence Knoll Armchair in blue tweed. Either of these will give you a solid base from which to start creating a space to relax and enjoy.
If you’re not too old for Ikea yet, you likely don’t know what I’m talking about. Every season, designers release a series of stylized pillows that add a splash of seasonal colour or a fun new theme to your decor. Just to be clear, they are not the pillows that come with the couch. If you do it right you can have different pillows for different holidays, mix in appropriate print patterns for autumn or spring, and toss in couple avant-garde colour mixtures just to shake it up. They are just the sort of accessory that makes a Barcelona chair pop or turns the Le Corbusier LC2 Sofa from stylish comfort into a personalized art piece.
For years the dog went everywhere you did. He got into all sorts of filth and you welcomed him to snuggle with open arms. And then you noticed what his exploits were tracking all over the couch. Now all of the sudden he’s canis-non-grata on the sofa and you’ve purchased him a nice little doggy bed for the floor. It’s part of the transition into caring about your space. It’s the realization that sometimes your stuff needs to be protected from your best friend, especially if it’s a brand new Borge Mogensen sofa.
If your curiosity carried you this far, I’m afraid to say, you are likely too old for Ikea. Don’t worry though it’s completely natural. When you enter a new stage in life you automatically find yourself reading up on all things related. It’s a good thing! And, now you get to embarke on developing a home you’d be proud to show off. You get to learn about Mid Century Modern masters who flawlessly transitioned between furniture and architecture because it was really all about style and design, not creating another generic widget to sell. These are exciting times for you!
So, now that you know you’re too old for Ikea, what next? Sometimes it takes a little while to fully get comfortable building an aesthetic - take your time. Usually, finding that perfect starter piece is what gets things rolling and then before long you’re operating a Swedish Craigslist pop-up store clearing out all that stuff that just sorta blends in.
To help get you thinking, I want to leave you with a few names to consider. First, get to know the husband and wife team, Ray and Charles Eames. Chances are you already know their work because they created some of the most elegant and comfortable seating in human history. And of course, the entire Mad Men set was practically dripping with Eames designs! If you have a home office and you haven’t looked at an Eames Management Chair for behind the desk, all I can say is you’re missing out on something special.
Next I suggest a couple Nordic designers that don’t sell cheap meatballs with their furniture. It will ease the transition and show you just how much better it can be when pieces are designed with purpose. Take the Shell chair by seminal Danish designer Hans Jørgensen Wegner, you could very easily put one of those in a room and a watch as the everything else starts to take shape around it. Likewise, you could begin with the iconic Egg chair by that other Danish master Arne Jacobsen and notice how even your remaining Ikea furnishings look as if they’re stepping it up a notch in its presence.
More than anything else, remember, this is about you. It’s about your style and figuring out what that is. Experiment. Invest a bit of money. And above all else, have fun with it!
A hotel is a hotel is a hotel. That is exactly wrong. Some hotels are places for travelers to rest while others are places for them to travel to. Some hotels even take on a sense of place and a feeling of such cool that they become a must-see part of the cities where they are. Usually, these hotels are vibrant and thrilling like the places where they’re built. Other times they stand out from a non-descript surrounding on what, for you, may be an otherwise mundane business trip. Either way, they demand to be discovered and admired.
We’re going to explore a few of these ultra-cool hotels that have taken on the true essence of that timeless style, Mid-Century Modern; seven to be precise. For the uninitiated, Mid Century Modern encompasses mid-20th-century developments in modern design from roughly 1933 to 1965; it’s the Mad Men era and generally thought of as the birth of cool. What follows is a handful of the trendsetters, and as we go through them you may just want to start planning your next couple of holidays because they are all worth a visit.
The first destination hotel we’re going to look at is Palihouse West Hollywood. Palihouse is an ode to Mid-Century Modern style. Designed and owned by Avi Brosh, it’s a home away from home, only probably much cooler than your home. It’s a place that lives up to their suggestion that, “unique experiences and inspiring places are integral to a life well-traveled.”
No matter what room you end up in, Palihouse delivers comfortable accommodations that are just cool. The Chesterfield, coffee table, and even the red Helix chair, in this classic guest suite, create a space that holds your attention and begs you to relax in style.
More than a hotel, the Palihouse has embraced that certain something and become a place where people come together. With its well-renowned restaurant and reputation of being a place to see and be seen, it’s become a great spot for travellers, designers, and locals to find a comfortable seat to enjoy some great people watching.
The next stop on our tour of Mid Century Modern accommodations is the Trident Hotel in Portland, Jamaica. It’s about an hour and a half drive from the place where Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels. And when your standing in your room looking out on the ocean, surrounded by some true classics of Mid-Century Modern furniture design, you can almost feel a little James-Bond-cool pulsing through the place. Throughout the Trident, you will find an almost overwhelming collection of Saarinen Organic, Panton, and Shell chairs. And of course, when you're relaxing in your room there is no better spot to be than in an Eames Lounge Chair with an Arco Lamp overhead. The Trident Hotel has not only added the odd flourish of Mid Century Modern design, they’ve gone all in. It’s the sort of hotel where you could imagine bumping into Don Draper on one of his mysterious getaways to a seaside resort. If you do, just remember to play it cool, you don’t want to look out of place.
For our next destination hotel, we go across the Atlantic to the birthplace of Mid Century Modern master Arne Jacobsen. He’s the Dane who gave us the iconic Egg and Swan chairs and in Copenhagen, the Hotel Alexandra is continuing to provide Denmark with a destination for people who love Mid-Century Modern Design.
In fact, the Hotel Alexandra bills itself as the only hotel on earth with such a large and unique collection of Danish Mid Century furniture. Located in the heart of Copenhagen all 61 rooms of this hotel, plus the lobby is completely done in Mid-Century Modern. Not only that, the lobby doubles as a Mid-Century Modern design library featuring a vast array of books to get you right up to speed with everything the Danes have contributed to this timeless style. While you're studying, I would suggest sitting in one of their many Papa Bear chairs originally designed by that other seminal Danish designer Hans Wegner.
Since we’re in Europe, we should head over to the Boundary Hotel in London. The original building was a late Victorian warehouse that was only converted into its current form prior to the hotel’s opening in 2008. Not only is it completely done in Mid Century Modern design, they have an entire room dedicated to Charles and Ray Eames. In fact, they have twelve rooms exclusively dedicated to different Mid Century Modern masters. This allows you to take in the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Grisinto in a way that shows you how their designs fit together to create a realized space. Of course, it also means you are going to need to stay several nights and move rooms each night to get the complete feel of the place. I think it may just be worth it.
While you’re working your way through the masters, make sure you pop upstairs to the rooftop bar, a popular hangout for London creatives wanting to surround themselves with Mid-Century Modern design inspiration.
And of course, before we leave Europe, we have to quickly pop over to Verona, Italy and take in the Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista. Believe me, it’s a hotel that needs to be taken in. Of all the hotels we’ve looked at so far, the Byblos is truly a wonder for the senses. Owned by the Byblos fashion house, the hotel is what happens when you take Mid Century Modern furniture design and place it in a building that has been evolving for hundreds of years.
Originally built by the Romans, it was redone in the 15th century as a Venetian style villa, and then into it’s current form in the 18th century. Since then it has been filled with artwork from every imaginable period and some truly interesting Mid Century Modern furnishings. Now you might think this would look terrible, but the truth is Sori Yanagi’s Ball chair looks oddly at home surrounded by frescoes and under elaborate dangling chandeliers. So while this is not a purist's Mid Century Modern experience, it definitely shows just how adaptable it is as a style and gives you some explanation of why it never seems to go out of fashion.
For our last two Mid Century Modern destinations, we are going to head back over to the USA to check out two hotels that are more like residences for hire.
First we head to Healdsburg Modern Cottages. These four cottages located just off Healdsburg Town Square are right in the middle of Sonoma wine country in northern California. And, like the Boundary Hotel, not satisfied to mix and match Mid-Century Modern designers haphazardly they have dedicated each of the four cottages to a different Mid Century master. The cottages: George, Eileen, Ray, and Charles are of course named for George Nelson, Eileen Gray, and Ray and Charles Eames. And in their own words they provide, “invigorating new views, and furniture that dances with the walls.” I’m inclined to agree.
If you think you’ll enjoy sampling some of California’s finest wine while relaxing in a Mid Century Modern paradise this may just be one hotel to check off your list sooner rather than later.
Our final destination is the Hotel Lautner in the Neighbourhood of Palm Springs California. Named for the man who designed so many of the homes that were ultimately furnished with Mid-Century Modern designs.
John Lautner focused on the relationship between human beings and their space, and how they both fit into nature. And if you’ve seen either the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever or the 1998 classic The Big Lebowski, you’ve seen Lautner’s work. He designed Mid-Century Modern buildings that were made for Mid-Century Modern furnishings. The trouble is that most of his buildings remain privately owned, so the opportunity to stay in one has been pretty limited.
The Hotel Lautner, which consists of four luxury cottages, is a Mid-Century Modern design enthusiasts paradise. And if you want to see a Bertoia Wire chair fit into its surroundings like nowhere else, this is the place to do it.
We’ve reached the end of our tour of Mid Century Modern accommodations, but that is not to say we ran out of destinations. Everywhere you find hotel owners looking to give their guests a truly cool experience you necessarily come across some elements of Mid-Century Modern Design. It’s tempting to say that there seems to be a Mid Century Design revival in progress, but the truth is it’s never gone away. The trick is to make your hotel selection just as important as choosing the destination. This way, whether you’re roaming or relaxing, it’s all part of the journey.
We love seeing how items in our mid-century modern furniture collections transform interior spaces. To celebrate modern reproductions - we put together some of our favourite luxury rooms that include specific pieces from our online collection.
Get inspired by these images to add a mid century modern piece to your living space...
Harry Bertoia's delicately industrial Side Chair is among the most recognized achievements of mid-century modern design. Like Saarinen and Mies, Bertoia found sublime grace in an industrial material, elevating it beyond its normal utility into a work of art.
Warmed through color and texture, the Florence Knoll Lounge Collection is a scaled-down translation of the rhythm and proportions of mid-century modern architecture.
This retro-modern lamp was inspired by the Sputnik satellite circa 1957 and features an impressive array of 40 polished chrome arms. Our modern reproduction of the sputnik lamp features 20 arms with chrome-tipped bulbs (included) at the ends, and 20 poles with metal spheres. With a diameter of 20", the Sputnik Lamp is sure to brighten up any room.
The Arco is included in the permanent collection at MoMA and was originally designed by Achille Castiglioni in 1962. This mid-century modern furniture reproduction contains a polished stainless steel shade that extends eight feet beyond the base, leaving room for a dining table or sofa to sit directly beneath the light source. It's perfect for rooms that do not have individual lighting fixtures from the ceiling.
When creating the Arco lamp, followed the principles of "Start from scratch. Stick to common sense. Know your goals and means." He passed this on to this students as well.
Inspired by a streetlight, the Arco cleverly provides overhead lighting without requiring ceiling suspension, its polished shade extending eight feet to accommodate a dining table or sofa beneath the light source. Aware that the 78-pound lamp would be difficult to move, the designers smartly placed a hole in the base to accommodate a broom handle. They also gave the Arco an adjustable arc and swiveling shade for precise lighting control. As groovy as it is elegant, the lamp's iconic status was sealed when it appeared on screen alongside Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever and inThe Italian Job (apropos).
At The Modern Source, we currently carry our modern reproduction of the famous mid-century piece - The Borge Mogensen Sofa.
However, nothing makes you appreciate the value of a modern furniture reproduction without seeing the piece that originally inspired the contemporary version. While the designs of all of our reproductions stay the same, the aesthetic of the original vs. contemporary piece is still different due to the environment it is set in.
This can be witnessed by looking at the original furniture designs created by Borge Mogensen in the 1960's which we currently carry at our online store. The design of the original Mogensen pieces is iconic and timeless for being progressive. This can be seen in the photos below of the original pieces at Mogensen's house which today, look just as relevant to today's culture and affair with simplicity in home design.
The original Borge Mogensen Sofa
The Eames Chair Reproduction Collection is an exclusive series of modern furniture pieces that we carry at The Modern Source. While reproductions of the various Eames chair designs are available worldwide, at the Modern Source we carry a hand-picked and custom reproduced collection of these contemporary furniture pieces.
Ray and Charles made the original designs for their many Eames chair series back in 1950 that became iconic for their minimalist design, simple functionality and a sense of luxury they brought to any room.
Today, we are excited to continue to give customers the ability to decorate their homes and offices with the Eames iconic mid-century modern furniture pieces. To highlight the collection, here are some of our favourite pieces:
The Eames / Saarinen Replica Organic Chair is a stunning replica of the original design which was a collaboration between two of the 20th century's greatest designers, Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen.
Perfect for the office, this modern reproduction is designed to mimic the natural sitting position, features a laminate seat shell, solid timber legs and soft woollen upholstery that has been hand-stitched onto the frame.
The beauty of this contemporary design, which has won fans around the world is that it mimics the natural seating position, which makes for the perfect reading or occasional lounge chair.
In their search for a better way, Charles and Ray Eames developed an innovative technique for molding plywood. The process allowed them to bend wood furniture in new directions and give hard materials a soft look.
The chair continues to be an icon of mid-century design, and is valued for its comfort as well as its unique construction. Available in a Dining Chair (referred to as the DCW model) as well as a Lounge Chair (referred to as the LCW model) style. The two styles are nearly identical except the Dining Chair is more upright, and the Lounge Chair slightly wider and more reclined.
Unmistakably Eames, the wire chair continues to add interest and comfort to home interiors, just as it has done for more than half a century.
The curved, bucket-back seat is made of cross-woven wires and secured on a welded wire base, also called the "Eiffel Tower" because of its resemblance to another classic design. Available as all wire or with two leather seat pad options.
Suitable for use as a statement piece, a dining chair or an office chair, it’s sure to add a dash of contemporary style to any space.
The Fall season is finally upon us and calls upon some seasonal freshening up for our interior spaces both at home and in the office.
At The Modern Source, Fall for us is all about furniture foundation pieces - both in design and in colour. A lot of our modern design furniture collections include timeless and classic mid-century and modern reproductions pieces that scream "Foundations" pieces.
To celebrate the arrival of Fall, we have put together key pieces from our collection that inspire us this season!
This mid-century furniture piece was one of Hans Wegner's most popular design and is widely utilised as a dining or occasional chair in stylish contemporary interiors due to its generous size and lightweight structure. It is our inspiration for fall due it's play on traditional leather and wooden finishing. The design reflects natural aesthetics of tree branches and adds a sense of nature to any space. The steam bent back and arm rail achieves the profile of poultry wishbones through traditional manufacturing methods whilst the tapered legs and natural paper cord are add an exotic touch. Our Replica Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair is true to the original with no compromise to quality and workmanship.
As featured on our homepage, we are absolutely in love with Eames's most popular classic - the Lounge Chair and Ottoman. This is a must-have modern design foundation piece for Fall not only due to symbol of luxury and exclusivity but it's internationally known design. Our authentic modern reproduction of the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is manufactured to the highest standards in the industry using the finest leathers and wood veneers. The cushions and armrests are fully upholstered in genuine leather on all sides, and cushions are constructed of high-density Dacron-wrapped foam to retain their shape over time. We are excited to offer this classic piece in our collection as we not only make it available at a price that beats the competition but the level of quality we deliver cannot be compared.
Wood is a uniform inspiration for us this Fall season at The Modern Source! On that note, we couldn't leave an office classic - the Eames Coffee Table. The simple modern design of this furniture piece make it easy to accessorize and blend in with most space. The table work particularly well in entrance and office lobby spaces. Made using real wood veneer over plywood, the true style of the piece lies in its minimalist design scheme. A circular top and four plywood legs curving outwards from the middle illustrates the elegant simplicity of the table, and makes it easy to into a range of décors.