Modern Furniture—Strength, Beauty & Simplicity

Posted on Oct 30, 2014

gap bedThe Gap Platform Bed

For many people, simplicity translates into the concept that less is more, and for Haiku Designs simplicity is the ideal way, both in assembling furniture and enjoying it in its many forms, such as lamps, dressers, platform beds, dining-room tables, and so much more. The focus of this blog entry is mid-century modern furniture, and how that tradition informs the present.

During the mid-20th century, the American contribution to modern design was slightly more organic in form and less formal than the broader international style, and it was dedicated to innovative design at that time. Today, there is a renewed commitment to advancing that purpose by American distributers and furniture makers. However, Brazilian and Scandinavian architects were very influential at this earlier time, with a style characterized by clean simplicity and the fluid integration with Nature. The celebration of mid-20th century design recalls the wonders of boomerang-shaped coffee tables, the curves of biomorphic furniture, the industrial sleekness of cool metals, and other exceptional attributes. This iconic style evolved with help from modern American architects, Scandinavian schools of design, and a progressive ‘family’ of rule-breakers across the globe. World War II had an interesting effect on global chair design in the 20th century, leading to what some might call an exodus of architects, furniture and interior designers to America as well as Scandinavian countries, where their designs caused a lot of cross influence and pollination of new and fresh ideas.  . 

The methods of making upholstery during the last century (which included horsehair, webbing, and springs) were replaced with a lighter method that involved molded plywood with foam rubber. These later products conformed to the human body and reflected the taste for a curvaceous, sculptural style, as seen in art and architecture. This “shell"-like construction (which was created by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen) would define their careers as furniture designers. Each would interpret it in his own way, resulting in mass-production by two of the major companies at the time, Herman Miller and Knoll.

Japanese and the Scandinavian nations also brought their own brand of beauty to contemporary furniture design, with simplicity anchoring their fluid, thoroughly modern designs and adding a naturalist touch to the entire movement, which is still in the process of developing these time-honored architectural values. Notable Scandinavian figures worth noting are Arne NorellJens RisomArne JacobsenVerner Panton and Alvar Aalto, who designed iconic, mid-century modern pieces with polished, smooth lines and the signature Scandinavian rusticity from the unfinished wood of their modern frames. 


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