Midcentury Furniture and Designers

Do you know your Knoll? Discover the most iconic designers and pieces from this highly collectible era.

The market for midcentury design shows no signs of slowing. The resurgence of this style means original pieces are in high demand at auctions and specialty shops. Retailers from Target to CB2 sell midcentury-inspired pieces—but there’s no such thing as replicated authenticity. Our guide offers tips on finding masterpieces from the era and seamlessly incorporating them into your home now.

A midcentury primer

Midcentury design is a movement from the middle of the 20th century that encompassed everything from architecture and furniture to textiles and graphic design. The shared aesthetic is best summarized in two words: simplicity and efficiency. In lieu of frivolous flourishes, midcentury designers favored clean lines and functionality. This minimalist approach to furniture and decor continues to appeal to today’s homeowners.

Iconic midcentury furniture   

George Nelson’s marshmallow sofas. Arne Jacobsen’s egg chairs. George Nakashima’s cabinets. Charles and Ray Eames’ loungers. These quintessential midcentury pieces and other designs by masters like Eero Saarinen and Herman Miller command high prices today. Finding the right piece can be a challenge in and of itself. High-end consigners and interior designers specializing in midcentury design can help you locate the right piece for your collection, or you can peruse online auctions at sites like eBay and 1stdibs. As with any expensive purchase, carefully review policies on shipping, condition, insurance and returns before finalizing the purchase. Keep in mind, however, that even if that avocado-colored womb chair isn’t right for your den, there will likely be a market for it among collectors and auctioneers, so long as it’s authentic.

Midcentury décor done right

The trick of midcentury décor is creating a consistent design without it looking dated or overdone. Midcentury accents include quirky touches, like statement lighting and graphic patterns, but be sure to include some fresh, modern pieces that work well with the timelessness and minimalism of midcentury. Some fabric companies from the midcentury era, like Marimekko and Knoll, offer fresh takes on classic designs to help you strike the right balance between then and now.

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