Wednesday 31st March 2021 - Belle Gait
We look at the history of mid-century furniture and some of the pieces available at auction.
Mid-century furniture is a timeless classic that has been around for decades and continues to be popular, especially at auction. Traditionally, these pieces were crafted with clean lines and right angles to give them an airy feel.
Often considered the last of the proper solid furniture before the start of flatpack, how much do we know about mid-century furniture and its history?
The term "mid-century" broadly describes styles of construction, furniture and graphic design from the middle of the 20th century. Consisting of anything from tables and chairs to floor lamps or dressers, mid-century furniture is characterised by refined lines and the use of both natural and artificial materials.
This design movement which originated in America has a colour palette consisting primarily of cool colours such as teals, greys and dusky blues. These tones paired with pops of mustard or burnt orange give a more modern feel, while geometric prints add an unexpected yet stylish touch when needed.
The second wave of creation of mid-century furniture began after WWII. At this time, designers such as Charles Eames and George Nelson started to create furniture pieces for companies, including Herman Miller Inc. These pieces are still popular today & have been copied many times since then, albeit sometimes without permission.
This era also saw an increased use/demand from consumers who wanted more affordable designs that they could buy them themselves rather than commissioning expensive custom work or buying antique items at auction houses, etcetera.
It's worth noting that the term "mid-century modern" is a misnomer because this era actually began in the 1930s and ended around 1970 and not all designs are from 1950 -1970. This means it can be confusing for people to know what they're looking at when browsing furniture stores or websites and, of course, auctions. For example: if you see something with chrome legs but an oak top, then chances are it would have been made between 1960 – 1980. In contrast, a cherry wood on walnut armoire would have been produced during 1900–1940!
One prevalent type of mid-century furniture is known as G-Plan. This style is characterised by its use of curved lines, clean shapes and a sense that the piece was designed to be used in an open plan living space. The G-Plan furniture company was founded in the 1950s by Geoffrey Charlesworth and George Platt. G-Plan pieces were usually made with solid wood or plywood frames, then covered over using laminate veneers.
The reality is that when it comes down to choosing what you want from this era - there really isn't a wrong answer. All mid-century designs offer something different, and there is sure to be something for every room.
Fancy bagging your signature piece of furniture at auction? Look no further!
Claydon Auctioneers have an incredible selection of mid-century pieces, including this retro wardrobe, this set of 6 vintage chairs or this 1970s teak sideboard by Nathan Furniture. These and more will go under the hammer in their Two-Day sale starting on 8th April.
If you are looking for a different type of statement piece, this Whitefriars glassware is Lot No 273 in the Stamford Auction Rooms Sale running on 24th April.
Whatever the style of mid-century furniture you are looking for, you can set auction alerts, so you don't miss out on any of the great pieces consigned to our auctioneers' sales.