If you recently fell in love with mid century furniture design, then you may want to work on refurnishing a room or your entire home in a retro fashion, but you just don't know where to start. A good idea is to pick a mid century chair you love and design a room around the feeling that the chair inspires. Many mid century designers were famous for their unique chairs, and these chairs range from classic, to modern, to futuristic. Here is a guide to a few of the most popular mid century designers and their most popular chair designs.
1. Harry Bertoia
Harry Bertoia was an Italian artist known for his sculptures and furniture. His most famous sculptures are unique "sound sculptures" that can actually be played like instruments, but people who wanted to take home his designs loved to buy his furniture, as they could then own his artwork in a functional form.
His furniture specialty was making unique chairs, and he has been quoted as saying he found many similarities between designing chairs and creating sculptures. As you can imagine, he used a lot of creativity when designing his chairs, and a popular one is his unique "Diamond Chair", which broke the mold of chairs during his time that were mostly made of wood. His diamond chair had a sleek design and was made of melded wire, with the back of the chair having a diamond pattern in the wires. This chair still looks unlike any other furniture piece designed since, and it truly is a unique work of art.
2. Hans Wegner
Hans Wegner was a Danish mid-century furniture designer, He also became famous for his chairs, but unlike Harry Bertoia, he did create many wooden pieces. However, he used the wood in unique ways while still concentrating on ensuring the final result was as functional as it was fashionable.
Once of his most popular pieces was his "J16 Rocking Chair," which was made mainly of wood with a woven yarn seat. While simple, it was cherished for being highly functional, as it had arms and a high back to suit people of every height. It was one of his first popular pieces--created in 1944.
Another of his famous chairs that he designed later in his career, in 1963, was his iconic shell chair. It only had three legs and had a sleek design that represents the unique 60s style you may remember or have seen on television.
3. Verner Panton
Verner Panton was another Danish mid-century furniture designer, and although he was born just a decade after Hans Wegner, his style was anything but classic. His style is usually referred to as "futuristic", and he created his chairs with plastics, which were considered high-tech at the time, and other high-tech materials in bright colors.
One of his most popular chairs was also his namesake chair, called "The Panton". It was the world's first molded plastic chair, and it had an S-shaped design that seemed to defy gravity. His "Cone Chair" was just as unique, as it had just a tiny steel swivel base that supported the rest of the chair that had a cone design with the pointed side down.
4. Eero Saarinen
Eero Saarinen was born in Finland but moved to the US when he was a young teenager. His father was a Finish architect, so it is likely that he had design in his blood. Eero also studied design and architecture in school, and after, school he worked with his father. They created many chairs together, and Eero later went on to produce designs of his own.
One of his famous chairs was named the "Tulip Chair", and it was legless with a round pedestal base. It was modern and sleek, but still functional and comfortable.
Another of his creations was the "Womb Chair", which was a collaboration between him and another designer. When designing, the artists were seeking a chair that could be sat on in more than one position, unlike the standard chairs on the market at the time. It was made of a plastic shell with lots of comfortable latex padding on top. Soft cushions in many shapes and sizes topped the latex padding, and this feature is likely what makes so many comfortable sitting positions possible in just one chair.
If you are interested in mid century furniture but don't know where to start with your design, let one of the chairs from a famous designer of the time inspire you. Start with a chair you love and then integrate new pieces until your final room or home design comes together. For additional reading or advice, contact furniture designers or furniture stores.