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Mid century modern 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.  New materials made it easier to mold one piece organic designs like rounded fiberglass chairs and the bending of plywood furniture allowed for curvy designs.  furniture makers Knoll and Herman Miller in the U.S. helped usher in an era of form and function.

Bold primary colors, chrome, and even lucite allowed the decorator to emphasize space in a way not previously done.  The emphasis on the body of the piece versus the legs created the illusion of float.  Lightweight materials allowed for spatially large pieces to be balanced. 

The composite materials also allowed the furniture to be defined for the human body, known today as ergonomics.  Previously, little thought was given to the position of the human body.  A chair was made and the human conformed.  Suddenly, form could take into consideration the natural shapes and form of the human.

Though man-made materials were used, the modern era was one of balance.  Large free form wood pieces were usually combined with composite materials to balance a room.