Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the resurgence in mid-century modern style office furniture. It’s everywhere you turn now: offices, storefronts, on TV shows and commercials. It might be that white leather chair with the sleek, chrome armrests or that Eames-style sofa with the tufted buttons. Seemingly overnight, everyone’s office has visually transformed into a 1960’s New York ad agency. “But why?”, you might ask yourself. Well, there a few factors that are contributing to this latest trend.
First, let’s define what “modern” style furniture really means. Post World War II era America begins the mid century time period for our country. The trimming down of materials, a practice during the war in an effort to conserve, continued in factories. Designers were doing more with less. Combined with the invention of chrome plating, the outcome was bright, polished-looking furniture with minimalistic designs. Modern style furniture was born. In addition to chrome metal and simplistic designs, modern office furniture tends to look more linear, featuring sharp angles, squared off corners and boxy profiles. Modern furniture colors are a bi-polar mix of subtle and bright. While white seems to be common, bright reds are starting to appear. Where you see tobacco browns you will also see midnight blacks.
This style furniture also boasts low-back and mid-back design lounge chairs and sofas, sticking to that open, minimalistic aesthetic. Desks tend to feature cherry and walnut veneers with warm stains and little to no modesty panels. It should be noted that mid-century style furniture has never, truly gone out of style. The angular and sometimes psychedelic designs of this time period have managed to linger in offices decades after their inception. Designs have been tweaked over the years but the ideas have remained. There is a familiarity with modern furniture for most people and a nostalgia for some, which plays into the popularity of this style of office furniture.
Another one of the factors of today’s insatiable craving for modern classic furniture are TV shows based around the 1960’s time period. Mad Men, a show about a Madison Avenue advertising agency during the ’60’s, ingrains mid century styling into the head of their viewers. Just sitting through a single episode will expose you to numerous camera shots of tufted reception seating, brightly colored guest chairs, sleek steel desks and walnut conference tables.
With all of the demand for clean lines and chrome, plus the longevity of the mid century design, it would be safe to say that the ribbed leather chair you purchased will be in style for years to come.