eames chair

There are some designs that are so recognizable and memorable that no matter where you see them, you just know them.  The Volkswagen Bug, The Stratocaster, and the Apple Macintosh are classic classic examples of such design icons. 

In the mid-20th century, several design icons were born in response to World War II.  Designs that combined the technological advances of the early 20th century with a post-war optimism.  They're simple and classic, and just as at home in a traditional interior as they are in a modern structure. 

eames chair

Eames Plywood Chair

The Eames Plywood Chair, is a classic and iconic piece of furniture designed by the husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames. It is renowned for its innovative use of materials and design, which pushed the boundaries of what was possible with plywood.

The chair was first created in the early 1940s during World War II. Charles and Ray Eames were experimenting with molded plywood as a material for creating comfortable and affordable furniture. They aimed to produce a chair that would be both visually appealing and structurally sound while using minimal materials. The result was a chair with a gracefully contoured seat and backrest, designed to provide comfort and support.

There are different versions of the Eames Plywood Chair, including the LCW (Lounge Chair Wood), DCW (Dining Chair Wood), and DCM (Dining Chair Metal). These chairs are often distinguished by their varying bases, with some featuring wooden legs and others having metal bases.

The Eames Plywood Chair is celebrated for its timeless design and the innovative use of molded plywood. It has been a staple in mid-century modern and contemporary design and can be found in homes, offices, and design museums around the world. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the Eames' design sensibilities and their commitment to creating functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing furniture. 

swan chair

|image courtesy of my ideal home|

Swan Chair

The Swan chair is a famous and iconic piece of modern furniture design. It was created by the Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen in 1958 as part of his larger design project for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark. The chair is known for its elegant and curvaceous form, which resembles the graceful shape of a swan, hence its name.

Key features of the Swan chair include its smooth, rounded seat and backrest, which are upholstered in fabric or leather, and its swivel base, which allows for easy rotation. The chair's design reflects the mid-century modern aesthetic, characterized by organic shapes and a focus on both form and function.

The Swan chair has become an iconic piece of furniture and is considered a classic in the world of design. It is often used in contemporary and modern interior design to add a touch of sophistication and style to various settings, such as living rooms, lounges, offices, and hotel lobbies. The chair's timeless design continues to be celebrated and reproduced by furniture manufacturers worldwide.

womb chair

|image courtesy of dwell magazine|

Womb Chair

The Womb Chair is a renowned modernist chair designed by Eero Saarinen in 1946. Known for its organic, curvilinear shape, it was created for the Knoll furniture company to provide a sense of comfort and security, akin to being in a mother's womb. The chair features a molded fiberglass shell with foam padding and is typically upholstered in fabric or leather, offering various color and material options. Many versions come with a matching ottoman for added comfort and relaxation. Resting on a swivel base, the chair allows for easy movement and rotation, making it versatile for different seating arrangements. Its ergonomic design and cushioning prioritize comfort, making it a popular choice for both residential and commercial spaces. The Womb Chair remains an iconic and timeless piece of modern furniture.


tulip table

|image courtesy of architectural digest|

 Tulip Table

A tulip table, also known as the Saarinen table, is a modern and iconic piece of furniture designed by Finnish-American architect and designer Eero Saarinen in the 1950s. It's celebrated for its sleek, minimalist design and organic form. The table is characterized by its single, central pedestal base that resembles the shape of a tulip, which is where it gets its name.

Tulip tables typically feature a round or oval tabletop, and they come in various sizes to suit different dining or living spaces. The single pedestal base not only provides stability but also contributes to the table's modern and clean aesthetic. The tabletop is usually made of materials like marble, fiberglass, or wood, and the tables are available in a range of colors and finishes to match various interior design styles.

One of the key features of tulip tables is their versatility. They can seamlessly fit into a variety of interior design themes, from mid-century modern to contemporary and even minimalist decor. While the original tulip tables were often made with marble, modern reproductions and adaptations have made these tables more accessible to a wider audience, with options for different materials and price points.

Eero Saarinen's design for the tulip table was part of his broader efforts to simplify and modernize furniture design. Today, the tulip table remains an iconic piece in the world of interior design and is often used in dining rooms, kitchens, or as a stylish accent table in various settings. Its timeless design and adaptability have ensured its continued popularity for many decades.

 george nelson pendant lamp |image courtesy of lightslightslights australia|

Saucer Pendant

The George Nelson Saucer Pendant is a famous and iconic mid-century modern lighting fixture designed by the American industrial designer George Nelson. It is part of the Nelson Bubble Lamp series, which was created in the 1950s.

The Saucer Pendant features a distinctive, elegant, and timeless design. It consists of a saucer-shaped, white plastic or paper lantern-like shade that is often made from a material called "aerocryl" (an early form of acrylic) or a translucent, lightweight fabric. The saucer-shaped shade is suspended from the ceiling by a metal rod and canopy.

One of the key characteristics of the Nelson Bubble Lamp series, including the Saucer Pendant, is the use of innovative materials and techniques. George Nelson and his design team used a process called "cocooning" to create these lamps, which involved spraying a web of plastic over a steel frame to achieve the desired shape. This resulted in a soft, diffused light that is both warm and inviting.

The George Nelson Saucer Pendant, along with other lamps in the Bubble Lamp series, has remained popular and influential in the world of modern design. These lamps are known for their ability to complement a wide range of interior styles, from mid-century modern to contemporary.

You can find George Nelson Saucer Pendants and other items from the Nelson Bubble Lamp series from various retailers and design stores that specialize in mid-century modern and contemporary furniture and lighting. They are considered collectible design classics and are often featured in interior design projects. 

mg5 dining chair

MG5 Dining Chair

The Matteo Grassi MG5 dining chair is an iconic Italian design known for its minimalist aesthetic and high-quality leather upholstery. With a sleek and timeless silhouette, this chair typically features a metal frame and top-quality leather upholstery that can be customized in various colors and finishes to suit individual preferences. Despite its minimalist design, it's designed to offer comfort during meals and is known for its durability, thanks to Matteo Grassi's reputation for using high-quality materials and craftsmanship in their furniture. 

nelson bench

Nelson Bench

The Nelson Bench is a classic mid-century modern piece of furniture designed by American architect and designer George Nelson. It was first introduced in 1946 as part of Nelson's collection for the Herman Miller furniture company. The Nelson Bench is known for its simple, clean lines and versatile design, making it a timeless and iconic piece of furniture.

One of the defining features of the Nelson Bench is its versatility. It can serve various purposes in different settings, such as a bench for seating, a coffee table, or even as a display surface for decorative items. Its minimalist design is characterized by a sleek, rectangular wooden seat or platform supported by slender metal legs typically made from black or white powder-coated steel. The seat of the Nelson Bench can be made from a variety of materials, including solid wood, veneer, or upholstered cushions. George Nelson's design philosophy focused on creating functional and aesthetically pleasing furniture that would stand the test of time, and the Nelson Bench is a prime example of this approach. It has become an iconic piece of furniture in the world of mid-century modern design and is still in production today, available through licensed manufacturers. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless appeal and ability to blend form and function seamlessly.

barcelona chair

|image courtesy of correire bella sera living|

Barcelona Chair

The Barcelona Chair is a renowned piece of furniture designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich in 1929. Created for the German Pavilion at the International Exposition in Barcelona, it has become an iconic symbol of modernist design. Characterized by its minimalist and elegant appearance, the chair features a stainless steel frame and luxurious leather upholstery. Mies van der Rohe drew inspiration from ancient Roman folding chairs, blending classic and modern elements. The Barcelona Chair's versatile design allows it to complement a wide range of interior styles, making it suitable for both residential and commercial spaces. Its timeless appeal and cultural significance have cemented its status as a classic in the world of design, with authentic pieces often found in museums and design collections globally.

shell chair

|image courtesy of carl hansen|

Shell Chair

The Shell Chair is a classic piece of furniture known for its iconic design and comfort. Designed by Danish architect and designer Hans J. Wegner in 1963, it has become a timeless symbol of mid-century modern design. The chair features a molded plywood shell with curved edges and a slightly reclined backrest, providing excellent support and ergonomic comfort. Its clean lines and minimalist form make it a versatile addition to various interior styles, from contemporary to retro. The Shell Chair is often paired with a wooden or metal base, which adds stability and a touch of elegance. Its aesthetic appeal and functionality have made it a staple in homes, offices, and design-oriented spaces around the world. The chair's enduring popularity can be attributed to its combination of form and function, making it not only a design statement but also a comfortable and practical seating option. Its enduring presence in the world of furniture design makes the Shell Chair a testament to Hans J. Wegner's mastery of both craftsmanship and innovation. noguchi table

|image courtesy of estudio maria santos|

Noguchi Table

The Noguchi Coffee Table is a famous and iconic piece of furniture designed by Isamu Noguchi, a renowned Japanese-American artist and designer. The table was first created in 1944 and has since become a classic in the world of modern furniture design. It is also known as the "Noguchi Table" or the "Isamu Noguchi Coffee Table."

The Noguchi Coffee Table features a unique and sculptural design, characterized by a smoothly shaped, two-piece wooden base that resembles an interconnected set of biomorphic forms. The base consists of two identical curved wooden pieces that provide stability and support for the glass tabletop. The tabletop itself is typically made of tempered glass with a rounded, freeform shape that complements the organic design of the base. Noguchi's design philosophy for this table was to create a piece of functional art that seamlessly blended with its surroundings. The table's elegant and artistic appearance allows it to fit well in various interior design styles, from modern and minimalist to more eclectic and traditional settings. The Noguchi Coffee Table is considered a masterpiece of mid-century modern design and is still in production today. It has gained worldwide recognition and is part of numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. The Noguchi Coffee Table is a testament to Isamu Noguchi's innovative approach to furniture design, combining artistry and functionality in a way that has made it a timeless and highly sought-after piece in the world of interior design.

More on design from the EG team >

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Splitting the Difference >

Stepping Back in Time | Mid-Century Architectural Gems Open to the Public >

10 Mid-Century Design Icons >

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October 13, 2023 — Laurie Furber