Why we have an endless fascination with mid-century modern. There’s just something about mid-century design (MCD) that captures the imagination. The architecture is emblematic, exciting, and nostalgic.  It’s close enough in our history to feel familiar, yet far enough away to be inspirational.

We live in such a completely different way, that interiors of the 50s, 60s and 70s are responding to social behaviours and cues that are no longer the norm, so there’s something contradictory yet enthralling.  It touched our generation, our parents, and grandparents, near enough to be real in a way that period antiques of the early 20th century and older, seem more relic-like – exciting sure, but less tangible somehow, coming from a world we can’t really imagine.

MCM exists in the post war world, reflecting a vibrant period of social, technological and political change where design was ground-breaking, architecture brave and sculptural. To those who may have felt that mid-century, retro design has been a passing fad, sit back down!  Mid-century style continues to inspire and excite showing its face in new architecture and interior design.

As such, the choice to invest in or keep an original piece of mid-century design is a sound one.  Not only are you engaging with something the interior world considers usable in perpetuity, you are continuing a legacy of stewardship and conservation of an important part of our design heritage.

In a world where capitalism has spent our lives teaching us to consume and discard, we are now moving rapidly towards an ideal of longevity and sustainability. So, when you make the decision to ‘adopt’ a classic piece of design, you are giving it another chance to invigorate an interior, and careful consideration to its conservation opens up a world of upholstery opportunities.

There are several main fabric types that seem to perpetuate and have the “flavour” or sentiment of mid-century style whilst also being suitable for upholstery.  Simple textures allow the shape of a piece to stand out, warm wools will hug the shapes of these designs, while boucle feels completely relevant to this period.

Fortunately, there are a lot of careful and respectful retailers and upholsterers devoted to the maintenance and celebration of these stunning pieces.

Over the next few weeks we will hear from local upholsterers and retailers of MCD furniture who are equally as passionate about the style and their process for restoring these popular pieces of furniture. 

With locations in Sydney and Auckland the owners of Tangerine and Teal Sasha and Vanessa were raised in a home surrounded by art and likely learned their appreciation for a cultivated aesthetic. Some of the well-known brands you may find with Vanessa in Auckland include Otto Larsen, Don, Jon Jansen, and Parker and in Sydney with Sacha you are likely to find Fler, Snelling, Featherston, Parker and Wrightbuilt.

What do you love about mid-century furniture and design?

Simple clean lines and great design feature in the majority of MCM furniture pieces, they are timeless in design and look great mixed in with contemporary pieces to give character and nostalgia to your home.

What items are you always looking out for?

We don’t import furniture from overseas and instead focus our search locally for interesting pieces by local New Zealand and Australian designers who are often underrated on the world stage but have great designs.  Recently Vanessa restored and sold a lovely sideboard by New Zealand designer Rudi Schwarz and here in Sydney I just sold a rare dining suite by George Korody.

How did you come to select the fabrics for these stunning pieces?

The Mokum Mondrian Noir was selected for the pair of Parker furniture armchairs, originally these 60s chairs were always produced with wool cushion covers so the construction was a good fit. The Mondarian style black and white pattern is synonymous with the era and compliments the simple lines of the chairs.

The Piet Blanc was selected by our clients to reupholster their 70s Tessa armchairs. The luxurious soft texture in the white colour suited the stuffed cushions and brought luxury and style to the chairs in their setting overlooking the ocean in the northern beaches.

Quality and good design will stand for as long as we continue to look after and celebrate it. Classic pieces will transcend movements of the moment and will continue to add quirk and personality to your interior.

It also reminds us that new pieces bought now can be considered an investment, a collectible of the future, something to be treasured and enjoyed. As such, it’s important to consider with new furniture, buying pieces that evoke something in you – don’t think about fashion or trend, this is something you will be using and looking at daily for years to come, so compromise should not be an option! It should be a decision you are EXCITED about making. 

Buying from reputable manufacturers, designer/makers and brands who stand by their quality and craftsmanship will ensure longevity – a legacy piece that generations of the future will be able to re-love, refurbish, and be inspired by. 

Posted by James Dunlop Textiles Blog