The era that gave us mass-produced furniture and the opportunity to “experiment” with our decor is making a come-back in the lush set designs of AMC’s hit show, Mad Men. From Pete’s chic apartment to the Draper’s domestic dream home, everyone seems to be buzzing about mid-century modern, and rightly so.
With whispers of clothing lines coming out based on the fashions from the show, and online forums filled with questions about where to find Dan Draper’s office furniture, the trend towards mid-century modern is firmly in place. Mid-century modern furniture – your grandmother’s furniture – is classic, cheap, and easy to find if you know where to look. Outside of it being handed down from your relatives when you moved out of the house to go to college, you can find these “antiques of the future” in thrift shops, estate sales, antique auctions and online at sites specializing in mid-century modern.
Mixing these classics with your existing decor is easy. In fact they look fantastic and add a lot of character when mixed with other styles. Furniture of that era is smaller in profile than many modern alternatives, so works really well in smaller spaces. You can even reupholster these pieces to match your color scheme and still do it for less than the cost of new furniture.
The most abundant and easy to find mid-century modern is Danish Modern, or Danish Teak as it is sometimes known. As Mad Men Set Director Amy Wells points out, when asked about her work on set. “I want to make Mad Men look real, as if the people really have those pieces. It’s important that they be imperfect, not iconic. A lot of people had Danish modern at the time because it was reasonably priced, and much of it still exists because it was so well made.”
Some designer’s names to keep your eyes open for would be Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner, N.O. Moller, Arne Jacobsen.
Finn Juhl was the first modern Danish furniture designer to be recognized internationally. He created a new style of Danish furniture that embraced form as much as it did function. The world noticed, earning Juhl the unofficial title of Father of Danish Modernism. You can see more credenzas and mid-century modern furniture examples for sale.
Top 10 collectible pieces of mid-century modern to start your collection
Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW)
The husband and wife team of Ray and Charles Eames really are American Modern Royalty. Together they made advances in manufacturing methods for mass-producing furniture. Their Lounge Chair Wood is iconic of their work.
Nelson Platform Bench
Designed by George Nelson, the Director of Design for the Herman Miller Company, the Bench has a light airy quality to it while maintaining the warmth of the wood. Nelson was also known for his advances in creating modular furniture and shelving for both office and residential.
Isamu Noguchi Coffee Table
Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese-American designer and sculptor. His sculptural sensibilities can be seen in his most famous furniture piece, this coffee table designed in 1954 for Herman Miller remains a timeless piece of design.
Eero Saarinen Tulip Table and Chairs
Finnish-born architect and designer, Saarinen was the father of the “Jetson’s” look. He is most famous for his Tulip table and chairs. Coincidentally became the basis for the seating on the original Star Trek series.
Eero Saarinen Womb Chair
Saarinen was also well-known for this piece of design as well. The womb chair was said to have been designed for Florence Knoll, who challenged him to create a piece of furniture that she could curl up in.
Marcel Breuer Wassily Chair
The Wassily chair is notable because it is one of the first chairs to incorporate bent tubular steel. First designed for Wassily Kandinsky, the chair widely gained popularity and has been mass-produced ever since.
Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair
The Barcelona chair was designed by Mies van der Rohe for the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition in 1929. The fluid lines of this chair make it a classic that is as fresh today as it was then. Mies van der Rohe’s signature is on the frame of each original piece.
Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair
The Swan chair was designed for the lobby of the Royal Copenhagen Hotel in 1958. The chair, manufactured by Fritz Hansen, was innovative at its time because it was entirely made up of curving synthetic material covered with upholstery.
This chair epitomised the height of status and luxury for a long time. Designed to be as comfortable as an old baseball mit, the chair certainly lives up to expectations.
Finn Juhl Model 45 Armchair
This chair typifies the Danish design sensibilities. Beautifully proportioned, elegant sinewy frame and the warmth and comfort of wood and leather.