Five Ground-breaking Mid-Century Modern Designers

Meet the Designers Who Made MCM What it is Today

The bold and cutting edge design we now know as mid-century modern rose in popularity during the 1940s and continued through the 1960s. Designers, architects, and artists from around the world contributed to the themes of functionality, minimalism, and shape that characterize this style. Let’s examine a few key players, whose design work had huge impacts on the furniture of their time and continues today.

Charles and Ray Eames

This American married couple played an integral role in the development of mid-century modern design in both furniture and architecture beginning in the 1940s. They ran their design firm, Eames Office, out of Los Angeles until 1988. The Eameses were known for pioneering new technologies in furniture design by using materials in a way that hadn’t been seen before. They used molded plywood in what is perhaps their most popular design—the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

Poul Kjærholm

Also known for using unique materials in his work, Danish designer Poul Kjærholm is best known for his PK25 Lounge or ‘Element’ chair. Kjærholm considered steel to be a valuable natural resource and used it consistently throughout his work in ways that most other designers of the time used wood. He brought a fresh perspective to Danish modern design that had ripple effects on the design community worldwide.

Arne Jacobsen

Another Danish designer of the time was Arne Jacobson, who put forth his recognizable Egg Chair design in 1958 for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. Originally an architect, Jacobson gained inspiration from the aforementioned Eames duo and put a high emphasis on functionality in his work. While he also designed tableware, he is most well-known for his unique chair designs which also include the Swan and Ant Chairs.

Florence Knoll

Originally from Michigan, Florence Knoll was an architect, entrepreneur, and designer whose career spanned more than 30 years. Along with her husband, Hans Knoll, she ran the design firm Knoll Associates. Knoll specialized in designing modern office spaces with sleek furniture and open spatial concepts, a new idea at the time. Among her clientele were the corporate offices of Look Magazine, CBS, and IBM. While Knoll Associates employed many designers, at one point nearly half of the furniture they produced was designed by Florence, including tables, chairs, desks and benches.

George Nakashima

Artist George Nakashima is perhaps best known for his work as a sculptor beginning in the 1930s. His sculpture ‘News’ was commissioned for the Associated Press in 1938 and still stands above the entrance to 50 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. However, fans of mid-century modern furniture are probably most familiar with his namesake coffee table. By combining a structural wooden base with a glass top, it is considered to be the perfect blend of style and function.

We continue to learn from these designers of the past, and draw inspiration from their work. Be sure to browse our furniture and accessories for more innovative mid-century modern designs.

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