What is Mid-Century Modern Architecture?
Is a world obsessed with mid-century modern design? If you Google mid-century modern, that's actually one of the first articles that come up. But it's a difficult term to define. While it can broadly describe the architecture, furniture, and art from the middle of the 20th century, some feel that it's more specific to 1947 to 1957.
It has roots in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century but also in the post-World War I period. It's one of those designs that some love it, others can't stand it but there's no denying that the 1950s are back in many common designs and architectural layouts.
Surprisingly, most of the designs of the mid-century had gone out of fashion by the late 1960s but in the early to mid-1980s interest in the period began to return. Within a decade, vintage mid-century designs were increasingly popular and several events helped boost the modern appeal to a whole new group of design enthusiasts. By the mid-1990s, collectors had driven up the pieces of original mid-century design and art as well as architectural features and materials.
Difference between mid-century and mid-century modern.
Mid-century is simply a term used for furniture and accessories made in the mid-century, typically between 1950 to 1960. Mid-century modern is designed between 1945 in 1975 and doesn't necessarily take any design cues from the past. Mid-century modern is a popular style of interior decorating and architecture that's made a huge comeback in the past few years.
Places like Wayfair, Target, and Restoration Hardware offered many designs that are in step with the midcentury modern design. But what about architecture itself? Mid-century modern offers clean, sharp lines with minimal decoration in connection to nature and is primarily an American architectural movement. It was inspired by the high Prairie style developed by infamous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, probably the most common and well noted mid-century architect. It offers very wide, low footprints, with large, open spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows.
There's a unique emphasis on bringing the outdoors in or connecting nature to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Mid-century modern has a simpler look and feel than its high Prairie design parent. Mid-century modern architecture was all the rage in America up until about 1969. We have seen a resurgence in recent years with interior decorating styles and Scandinavian architecture. Originally, mid-century modern was a collection of homes built after World War II rather than a specific style but today, it's more of a particular building or decorating style.
Must-have elements for a mid-century modern design
Clean lines and geometric shapes – straight lines and right angles are essential to this type of architecture. Most homes have low, flat roofs with straight lines.
Floor-to-ceiling windows – keeping nature and lifestyle at the forefront, floor-to-ceiling windows allow for nature to be pulled inward and offer views of the yard and access points outside.
Changes in elevation – Mid-century modern homes can be split level with short staircases connecting rooms throughout the house, partial brick or glass walls, and centered fireplaces with unique elevation in the home's interior.
Minimal decoration – While some homes are more intricate than others, simplicity is typically the key to a modern movement. Mid-century modern design is definitely on the rise and you can find a lot of beautiful homes with this type of architecture throughout Portland, specifically in the luxury real estate market.
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NTREIS data last updated September 29, 2023.