|Modern furniture of
the midcentury era is characterized by the use of bold primary colors,
organic shapes, and clean lines. A slew of mid century furniture
designers like Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Marcel
Breuer, George Nelson, and George Nakashima were influenced by a focus on
the 'atomic' era of the 50's and then the 'space' era of the 60's. The
social elation of mankind's design prowess balanced by the awe of our own
power inspired designers to illustrate this dichotomy through form and
Mid-century furniture explored the use of new materials, such as fiberglass and bent plywood, to create shapes other than the boxy or embellished couches and seating of previous periods. The use of natural wood harnessed by man, such as the designs of George Nakashima, reminded people that even in an era of artificial form and materials we needed to remain firmly in touch with our own natural surroundings.
though functional, the creation of personal space in a public arena became a large focus. With names like "egg chair" by Arne Jacobsen and "womb" Saarinen, seating was designed to either foster interaction or provide a place for solitude. The creation of space, whether by lighting, the use of focal pieces like rugs, or colors, served to allow one to build a harmonious space that was free of distractions.
A clean line does not necessarily mean a straight line. The organic shape of the circle dominated the period. As if to enclose mankind from the unknown, tables, seating, and lighting offset the highly structured square and rectangular form of previous eras. The 60's particularly, with the psychedelic swirls of bright colors, ushered in a new design rooted in abstraction.