Mid-century modernism is an American minimalist design movement, which was highly popular in the country during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, in the United States. The movement emerged out of dissatisfaction with the more traditional, frugal designs of the time, which some felt was inhibiting the progress of modern society. It sought to bring greater aesthetic clarity and efficiency to an increasingly complicated modern society. Some mid-century modernists such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright were famous designers.
The central theme of mid-century modern style is clean lines and simplicity, with a heavy emphasis on natural materials and light fixtures. Clean lines are emphasized by a sharp geometric feel that including straight lines and straight angles, and a plethora of geometric shapes, including squares, rectangles, ovals, trapezoids, and circles. These are often used in interior design to draw attention to key artworks or to draw a focus on form. Clean lines can also be used to suggest motion, as in the use of sharp corners, which suggests a brisk and active space. Many times, in nature, corners are used to suggest movements, such as a bird’s eye view or a view across a field.
The organic elements of mid-century modern style are lightweight materials that are made from natural materials like plastics, which are often a pastel shade of green. Such materials may be found in cushions, throws, wallpaper, fabric coverings, wallpaper borders, and the like. Cushions may also have a non-slip backing. Other organic elements include geometric shapes, clean lines, and bright colors.
Many of the organic elements of mid-century modern style are also found in nature, such as plants, flowers, trees, grass, earth, metals, and tile. This organic element lends a sense of balance to the home environment. However, in order to achieve this balance, the home decor should be very clean and light. Elements that are loud, vibrant, and strong may cause the room to be overpowering. In mid-century modern design, brighter colors are combined with neutrals and wood. Neutral tones are often used.
Because this style was born out of an environmental awareness movement, materials that are free of toxic chemicals are often used. In fact, this style of interior design today is actually more concerned with cleanliness and health than with style and glamor. Many mid-century modern design experts believe that the way we are living has become more connected with sickness, disease, and pollution than ever before. Therefore, many of the techniques used in today’s design today are designed to minimize exposure to toxins and chemicals. As a result, many mid-century modern design professionals actually believe that a person’s overall “well-being” may be linked directly to their environment.
As previously mentioned, many of the geometric patterns of mid-century modern style are found in nature. Colors, too, are based upon the environment in which they will be used. The colors that are used for the walls and furniture may be earthy tones, earth colors, and even blues, reds, greens, and tans.
Because of their clean lines and lightweight construction, mid-century modern style designers often prefer fabrics that are not especially bright. One reason designers choose simple, but appealing designs is because it allows them to utilize a lot of space. As a result, much of the furniture and interior wall decorations are kept very simple, while the fixtures, such as mirrors, are kept very minimal. For example, while the floor may feature a rug, most mid-century modern-style homes do not feature high-heeled floor rugs. Instead, designers keep the floor covering very clean, with neat edges and flat, even surfaces.
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The mid-century modern style is very closely related to green living. Most people who follow this style adhere to the “greening” of the planet in one way or another. For instance, if you use recycled materials to build your home, then part of your interior design may be the use of recycled furniture. However, there are also those who are passionate about minimizing their impact on the environment, so that they only buy materials that are biodegradable, meaning that they will decompose naturally in place. In fact, many of the materials found in mid-century modern-style furniture are so tightly woven with recycled material that they have virtually no effect on the environment once they have been bought and used. In fact, by using these types of furnishings and accents, homeowners can literally be moving away from the madding society, while at the same time enhancing the comfort and livability of their living room.