The New Vint-Age: Mid-Century Modern

If you're anything like me (and I consider myself to have impeccable taste), then your targeted ads are littered with the hashtag #mcm or #midcenturymodern. I get one every five minutes - not that I'm mad about it.


As someone who has made the foolish decision to contend with the housing costs of living in Cape Town for the foreseeable future, I do a fair share of secondhand shopping to furnish my home. So, naturally, it's an attractive option to shop beautiful and (apparently) timeless pieces of MCM furniture.


Furthermore, considering how much time I spend trawling these pieces online, I thought I'd do you good folks a favour and share some of my favourite vendors. We're putting the "Style" into "Life & Style", here!


Hang on - what does mid-century modern even mean?


You might have guessed, at least, which century we're talking about here. We are, of course, referring to the mid-20th century, the age of retrofuturism. MCM design evolved in response to the climate into which the world limped following the devastation of WWII.


The world had just born witness to the extreme ends that modern technologies could achieve. MCM designers were reaching for ideas which "married mass production and technology with a more optimistic view of the future", according to interior designer Liza Kuhn.


Additionally, the design movement took notes from the infamous Bauhaus school of architecture and design. Bauhaus valued clean lines, a futuristic look and, above all, functionality. In fact, functionality persists as one of the core tenets of MCM design philosophy.


Arguably one of the most instantly recognisable pieces from this era is the Eames Lounge Chair, an updated take on the nineteenth-century club chair. Good design endures!




The MCM pop of colour

The "modern" twist in MCM furniture often arrives in the form of a bright accent colour. There are tons of refurbishing companies who will flip MCM furniture with an updated upholstery in bright but natural colours: think sage green, duck egg blue, rust orange, and butter yellow.


Like this stunning Florence Knoll-style parallel bar sofa from Flippers:




Or, if sage is all the rage for you, then this muted green Airflex two-seater sofa:




Function or form? I'll have both!


If there's one overarching theme from the twentieth century that carried over into MCM design, it was the celebration of functionality. But, MCM manages to preserve function without sacrificing artful form.


Take, for example, the extendable dining room tables and dropleaf side tables that pop up so often. What ingenious design! The foundational tenet of MCM design is celebrating furniture that you can modify to suit your needs.


This vintage dropleaf table can be propped up to serve as a dining room table, or folded down to become a small, functional desk.



If you're into extendable dining room tables, then you're bound to have heard of Novocraft. That's a green flag name for MCM hunters! Check out this Novocraft ten-seater from Klassiek Vintage Furniture & Décor.




Note the rounded edges? MCM design embraced organic shapes and materials, which is why wood makes such a prominent feature as the dominant medium of MCM furniture. I can't get enough of it, to be frank. Some cultures prioritise a rounded dining room table because the balance of power is equalised, no matter where anyone is sitting. It's a philosophy I can get behind.


MCM accent pieces


We just can't resist a little accessorising! I always grew up with a drinks trolley in my home, and it's been a pleasure to see them surge in popularity. They're not just for Pimms and Lemonade, either - I've seen people use them to display houseplants, glassware, even books!


I'm talking about trolleys like this gorgeous 1930s Art Deco bar cart trolley in mahogany wood from Vintage Club Furniture. Isn't she stunning?




And, no MCM-style room would be complete without a set of nesting tables in solid Imbuia wood! Again, it's a marvel how MCM marries function and form.





Conclusion


The MCM revival is here to stay. Cheers to that, we say! Our guide to local vendors of classic MCM furnishings means that you can style you home while strengthening the economy, saving the environment (yay secondhand shopping!), and staying on-trend. Don't say we don't do you any favours.


Until next time!


Mia