A History of Mid Century Modern Furniture Design

The history of Mid Century Modern Furniture Design goes back further than you might think and there is an obvious connection between many of the famous designers such as Ray and Charles Eames, Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen and more. 

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1928

Le Corbusier LC4 Chaise

Designer: Le Corbusier

Originally designed in 1928 and is now a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.

Designer Bio: Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, who was better known as Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect who began experimenting with furniture design in 1928. The collaboration with Charlotte Perriand and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret resulted in the expansion of the Le Corbusier furniture line in the1929 Salon d'Automne installation, 'Equipment for the Home'.

1929 

Barcelona Chair

Designer: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The chair was used by Spanish Royalty at the German Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain

Designer Bio: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German-American architect whose furniture designs pioneered new industrial technologies still in use today. His furniture is known for extremely fine craftsmanship, and a mix of luxurious fabrics like leather combined with chrome frames, and a distinct separation of the supporting structure and the supported surfaces.

1946

Molded Plywood Chair

Designer: Charles & Ray Eames

Hailed by Time magazine as the Best Design of the 20th Century the iconic chair began as an experiment

Designer Bio: Charles & Ray Eames pioneered many furniture design technologies such as fibreglass furniture, plastic resin chairs and wire mesh chairs. Charles methods of moulding plywood would eventually lead him to design some of his most famous furniture designs as well as splints and stretchers for the U.S. Navy during World War II. 

The Nelson Bench

Designer: George Nelson

Introduced in 1946, the Nelson platform bench remains a landmark of modern design

Designer Bio: George Nelson was an American industrial designer and one of the founders of American Modernism. While working as the Design Director at Herman Miller he was responsible for many iconic furniture designs. The clean, linear lines of his furniture designs reflect his architectural background and his insistence on what he called "honest" design.

1948

Noguchi Coffee Table

Designer: Isamu Noguchi

Sculptor Isamu Noguchi created this table by joining a curved, solid wood base with a freeform glass top

Designer Bio: Isamu Noguchi was a very well known Japanese American landscape architecht and furniture designer. In 1947 Noguchi began his work with the Herman Miller company as well as the famous Knoll company to produce many famous pieces of furniture design, including his most famous, the Noguchi Coffee table. 

1950

Diamond Lounge Chair

Designer: Harry Bertoia

In Bertoia's own words, "If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture.”

Designer Bio: Harry Bertoia was an Italian born sculptor and furniture designer who worked with Ray Eames and went on to create the iconic wire furniture collection, introduced in 1952. It is widely recognized as one of the great achievements of 20th century furniture design.

1954

Antony Chair

Designer: Jean Prouvé

Designed at the beginning of the 1950's for the Cité Universitaire at Antony, near Paris.

Designer Bio: Jean Prouvé was a French metal worker, architect and furniture designer. In 1923 he opened his own workshop where he collarborated with other famous designers such as Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. He would later go on to design his most famous furniture pieces, the Standard Chair in 1934 and the Antony chair pictured on the left in 1954.

1955

Tulip Armchair

Designer: Eero Sarinen

This chair, according to its designer was designed to “clear up the slum of legs in the U.S. home.”

Designer Bio: Eero Sarinen was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer whose work not only includes the wide ranging “Tulip” and “Pedestal” group of furniture, but also includes the largest monument in the western hemisphere, the famous Gateway Arch in St.Louis.

1958

Egg Chair

Designer: Arne Jacobsen

Designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958 for the Radisson SAS hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Designer Bio: Arne Jacobsen is remembered primarily for his furniture designs. However, he believed he was first and foremost an architect. A major source of inspiration, like many of the other designers lister here, stemmed from the bent plywood designs of Charles and Ray Eames. He was also influenced by the Italian design historian Ernesto Rogers.

1965

Ball Chair

Designer: Sori Yanagi

The Ball Chair is a modern contemporary furniture piece that adds a casual, futuristic element to any setting

Designer Bio: Sori Yanagi, was probably the most famous Japanese industrial designer and in addition to the Ball Chair is famous for his Butterfly Stool which was made from two identical plywood mouldings. Today, his kitchenware designs have attracted a cult following.