Mid-century Modern Furniture Designers

Mid-Century Modern Furniture Designers

Mid-century Modern Furniture Designers changed American culture by making great design accessible to the post World War II  world. American society was crying out for a return to normal but at the same time searching for a way to individualize  daily lives. Let’s get started  with a quick general definition of this landmark style, then focus on furniture, and particularly furniture designers.

What is Mid-Century Modern Design?

Mid-century modern design refers to an architectural, interior, and product design style that emerged in the mid-20th century, roughly from the 1930s to the 1960s. It’s characterized by clean lines, minimal ornamentation, organic shapes, and functionality. Designers like Ray and Charles Eames, George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi and architects such as Eero Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe reshaped design. The work of these individuals, and many of their contemporaries, is still hugely popular given the timeless aesthetic it has come to embody.

Eero Saarinen

Eero Saarinen (above) was a Finnish-American architect and industrial designer known for his visionary and innovative approach to architecture and design. He was born in 1910 and passed away in 1961. Saarinen’s work includes iconic buildings such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport in New York, and the Dulles International Airport in Virginia. He’s also known for his furniture designs, including the Tulip chair as shown below via Knoll.

Tulip Chairs via Knoll

Ray and Charles Eames

Ray and Charles Eames (above) were a married couple who were influential American designers, best known for their groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture design, industrial design, and filmmaking. They are particularly renowned for their iconic furniture designs, such as the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, show below courtesy of Herman Miller, which are still highly regarded and widely reproduced today.

Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi (above via Guggenheim Museum) was a Japanese-American artist and landscape architect known for his sculptures and public works. He was born in 1904 and passed away in 1988. Noguchi’s work often blurred the boundaries between art and design, incorporating elements of sculpture, architecture, and landscaping. He’s famous for his organic and biomorphic sculptures, as well as his innovative playground designs and public installations. Noguchi’s contributions to modern art and design have left a lasting impact on the cultural landscape. The iconic Noguchi Table, from DWR, is below.

George Nelson

George Nelson was an American industrial designer, known for his influential work in furniture design, including the iconic “Marshmallow Sofa” and the “Ball Clock.” He was also an important figure in the development of the mid-century modern design movement, as witnessed by his commission  to create a collection of wall clocks for Herman Miller, as shown below via Vitra.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a prominent architect known for his modernist architecture and his famous quote “less is more.” He was a leading figure in the Bauhaus movement and designed iconic buildings such as the Barcelona Pavilion and the Seagram Building in New York City. His Barcelona Chair, shown below via Knoll, has ascended to the Mount Olympus of design.


Our last point is that design matters. It attaches itself to our lives in ways that we don’t always consider. Thomas Watson of IBM, mid-century business titans for sure, said:

Good design is good business.

I think we can close this post right there.Thanks for reading!

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