We all have decorating styles that we like when we see them in a magazine, on television or in a movie. Subconsciously, something about a look resonates with us, even if we’re not giving it much thought. As an interior designer, I’ve spent year’s learning about the history of design and architecture and how to create a cohesive interior from a mixed group of elements. The ability to break down and analyze the elements of a style or period of architecture is very important, especially if you want to get the look yourself on any budget.
A very popular design style for many years has been Danish Mid-century modern. Of course, it was popular in the mid-20th century, but the style has also seen a big resurgence among young, hip urban dwellers over the last few years as well. I think that its popularity is a result of the desire for clean lines and minimalist appeal, coupled with the lure of vintage pieces that can be cost effective and eco-friendly. Danish Modern furniture grew out of the Bauhaus principles of furniture design that included clean lines, quality craftsmanship and materials as well as a desire for comfort. It is notable that as far back as the early 19th century, the Shakers in America developed an aesthetic style that was very similar in theory and concept, although physical comfort was not as important. These styles are said to have influenced the Danish modern style and in some ways may explain the appeal of the look to Americans 100 years later in the mid-20th century and again today.
If Danish Mid-century modern is a style that is appealing to you and you wish to incorporate this style into your décor, you should take note of the following design elements:
- Wooden construction from teak, oak and even plywood, steam bent into shape.
- Clean lines with a noticeable lack of embellishment such as carvings or inlaid woods. Upholstery fabrics were either solid wool or leather.
- Shapes that mimic the human body such as molded seats and wider supports for the upper back for seating.
- Molded plastics in bright colors and tubular metal framework.
And here are a few great pieces to get you started:
1950’s Recliner from Furnish Me Vintage: The 1950’s Recliner for sale at Furnish Me Vintage has all the hallmarks of the clean Danish modern look. The body friendly proportions, exposed solid wood legs and solid tweed upholstery fabric all hit the right notes.
Teak Dining Table with Chairs on ebay: ebay is a great source for moderate mid-century modern furniture such as Teak Dining Tables and chairs. The popularity of this style lead to its mass production and homes across America were filled with decent reproductions of the original master’s designs. The extendable table is clean lined and unfussy while the chairs are formed to fit the body comfortably at all points.
Conant Ball Coffee Table at Furnish Me Modern: The Contant Ball Coffee Table is an original piece, signed by the maker, dating to the 1950’s. Made of solid birch construction, the legs are sculptural without being fussy. The low, stylish coffee table would set the right tone in any mid-century inspired look.
Knappa Pendant Lamp from Ikea: The Knappa pendant is a rock-bottom priced pendant light inspired by one of the true stars of the mid-century period: the Artichoke Pendant by Poul Henningsen. Authorized reproductions today range from 4 to 5 figures and are made from laser cut plastics, glass or copper. The Ikea version, while not a true “copy”, offers a similar look in plastic.
Saga Credenza at CB2: The Saga Credenza is a moderately priced storage piece that captures the essence of the streamlined mid-century Danish modern look. A low credenza with simple slide front doors was a must-have of the period. Very “Mad Men”.