(disclaimer- chair of the week is not anything official- i just like chairs)
Last semester I read a book for a history class- ‘Interior Design Since 1900‘ by Anne Massey, a Brit.
It is a small inexpensive book that is rich in photos and history.
Her section on MCM (mid-century modern), what she calls “post-war modernism”, is rather small but she skims the surface of the style and mentions the basics.
MCM is fascinating- it’s ideals are similar to those of the Arts & Crafts movement, but its aesthetics are close to those of the Bauhaus movement (which is no surprise since Bauhaus modernism was widely taught in the best schools in the states when the German school was closed due to the Nazi’s in WWII & those famous Architects and Designers moved stateside) and they see the silver lining to mass production.
“…Cranbrook trained a whole generation of important designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia who came to the forefront in the 1950s. Inspired by a Modern but humanist aesthetic, the Cranbrook designers regarded mass production in a positive light as bringing ‘good design’ to the mass market. New techniques for molding and glueing plywood had been discovered by American manufacturers during wartime production for the navy were now exploited for furniture design, as were plastics with fibre-glass reinforcements. The first Chair to be mass produced in plastic was Charles Eames’s shell chair which had a single moulded unit for seat and back, made of fibre-glass reinforced polyester resin.” (awesome)
Phoenix is rich in mid-century modern ranch homes and aesthetic, check this out. So the chapter was a bit disappointing.
You cannot write about MCM without mentioning the Eames (husband and wife- Charles and Ray, trained at Cranbrook) and the author does so. They are my favourite furniture designers because of their idealism. They believed that design could be transformational; a way to improve the quality of ones life and should therefore be simple and longstanding, a thing of merit and integrity of design. If everyone was on-board for all furniture being so then their cost of production would decrease because everyone would want to own such pieces (theirs) and the demand for the simple shapes and structures would make for homes that are well designed, not victims to planned obsolescence, and the whole of your life would be better for it… Don’t you love them??
Here is the Shell Chair: