Mid Century Modern, The Barcelona Chair and Detroit

The influence of Mid Century Modern style is far beyond the field of furniture only. The lines, shapes, and colors of this stylish movement, where items like the Barcelona Chair or the Hans Wegner Shell Chair came from, have influenced the most diverse fields of arts and other human activity, in films, visual arts, and industrial design.  You can even consider that Mid Century Modern may influence a whole city, as it occurs with Detroit.

In this city located in the State of Michigan, the influence of Mid Century Modern, is vast and visible not only in the architecture of the city but in the cultural scene and even in their most famous products, like the automobile industry.

One fine example is Lafayette Park. This beautiful town is the repository of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe collection, which includes the famous Barcelona Chair and the Barcelona Collection. Its beautiful crystal buildings marvel everyone due to its cleanliness and modernity, looking brand new even when it has 50 years old. Lafayette Park has 186 townhouses of one or two stories and it’s located near downtown Detroit.

The Cranbrook Academy of Art is a marvelous example of how Mid Century Modern grow firmly in Detroit. Lots of great minds from the golden time of Design have taught there.  Eero Saarinen (creator of the Tulip Table and Tulip Chair); Charles and Roy Eames (creators of the Eames Lounge Chair or the Eames Office Chairs); and of course Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Barcelona Chair; Barcelona Sofa). Even Florence Knoll, the Director, and soul of the legendary house of design.

You can say that the Cranbrook Institute in Detroit was seminal in the creation of Mid Century Modern style. This movement had a significant moment in the Cranbrook studios in the 1930s. While Mid Century Modern focused on geometric abstraction — with perfect triangles, circles, and rectangles, from places like Germany’s Bauhaus; then Scandinavian Movement took nature as a source of inspiration.

That was all due to the stay of Eames, Knoll, Saarinen, and all the masterminds of Mid Century Modern. The turbulent period 1930s to the 1950s  prevented the spread of the Modernist message, but the postwar times gave the opportunity to several  European designers, like van der Rohe, to grow roots in America and give a second impulse to modernism.

The golden age for Mid Century Modern was born. The scale production of items like the Barcelona Chair, the Eames Lounge Chair, the Noguchi Table, among others, changed the face of the American House, and later many European homes, too.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a fatigue of users for the proposals of MCM, and new ways of expression were requested. But in the 1990s, the prolonged success of a book published in 1984:  Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s, by Cara Greenberg knew how to wake the interest of scholars and enthusiasts for Mid Century Modern furniture.

This enthusiasm began to gain impulse, and by the ends of the 1990s, Mid Century Modern was a well-stablished trend. The strength of this trend has remained unstoppable to nowadays, when Mid Century Modern is one of the big three trends in Interior Design, with Coastal Living and Scandinavian.

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