There’s nothing quite like walking into a clean home with carefully designed angular lines, sharp modern furniture, and what we like to refer to as minimalism aesthetic. While minimalism may seem like a new trend that’s caught fire these last few years, it’s actually nothing new. Minimalism, as well as many other interior and architectural influences all stem from the Modern Movement Architecture in the 50’s. The 1950’s Modern Movement Architecture, also known as ‘mid-century modern’ is a design aesthetic and art movement that swept through the United States post World War II period. Around that time, a strong desire for change soon caught fire in the United States and the Modern Movement Architecture was born. It was recognized everywhere by museums and scholars worldwide as a highly significant movement for design. The mid-century modern style was new, forward, and almost futuristic for its time period (1). Soon, every new office building to apartment complex was being designed with sharp lines, minimal designs, and a clean aesthetic.
The mid-century modern style didn’t just take over the exteriors, but quickly leaked its way into interior design as well. No longer were people decorating their homes with bulky, grand furniture, but instead were starting to move in sleeker, more minimal furniture pieces. It’s evident now that the mid-century modern interior and architecture design accomplishment was here to stay. Throughout the years, the sleek, minimal aesthetic has proven to be a pivotal point in our design progression and has made its mark on all of our homes. It has become a strong influential era for interior and architecture and continues to make impressions on the work of the top architects in the world.
Post World War II was a prime time for designers and artists around the world. During this time, the mid-century modernism style swept through the world with Scandinavian and Brazilian influences. The goal was to bring modernism into the average American home with an emphasis on functionality, open floor plans, and bringing nature into the homes (2). The mid-century modern movement in the United States was really a reflection of the Bauhaus and International Style movements that included the works of Florence Knoll, Le Corbusier, and the infamous Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – all said to have been pioneers in the modernism movement architecture.
In America, however, the modernism movement was more organic and less formal than the International Style, although it is still closely related to it. As we mentioned before, Scandinavian and Brazilian architects were highly influential during this time. Their focus was characterized as clean simplicity and integration with nature – an element we still see today very prominently in Scandinavian architecture especially. Soon, bulky support walls were being replaced with the innovative, ground-breaking post and beam support system that allowed the floor plan to remain open or sectioned off with a glass wall. Mid-century modernism also introduced the sliding glass double doors into the home, allowing nature to sit as the backdrop, but also encouraging residents to go outside and explores their backyards.
Mid-century modern architecture was, and still is, all about sharp angular lines, clean minimal designs that aid the flow of the home rather than distract attention away from it, and open, functional floor plans for the modern American family. It was built on the premise that ‘less is more’, and soon every suburban home and new office building was adopting these forward, futuristic, and minimal architectural designs. Flat planes and little ornamentations were popular with pops of color or monochromatic brickwork accents that matched the interior of mid-century homes. Unlike architectural structures built on popular styles and classical influences that came before, modernism architecture exhibits a lack in historic influences and visual formality with its geometric forms and asymmetrical composition. This straying away from the norm, however, may have been just the change we needed.
Frank Lloyd Wright
We can’t talk about mid-century architecture and design without talking about Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator whose creativity served him for over 70 years. Wright designed more than 1,000 structures all ranging from private to commercial, 532 of which were completed. Wright was an extremely influential designer and architect in America and helped pave mid-century modernism in the United States. His work is best exemplified by Fallingwater, a rural home in southwestern Pennsylvania that he designed in 1935. The Fallingwater home has been deemed not only Wright’s best work, but also as the best American architecture work of all time. In 1991, the American Institute of Architects recognized Wright as the greatest American architect of all time.
What made Wright so successful aside from being completely innovative and creative with his designs, was his organic architecture philosophy. Wright believed that homes, office buildings, meeting places, or whatever structure he may be designing must be in complete harmony with humanity and its surrounding environment. As the founder of organic architecture, Wright played a huge role in influencing the architectural movements of the 20th century, influencing three generations worldwide through his brilliant design and teachings. In addition to houses, Wright also worked on churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums, and more. He also helped design interior elements to match the architecture and would put together furniture pieces and stained glass.
The 1950’s modern movement architecture, or mid-century movement, was a highly influential time period post WWII that reimagined architecture and design and reshaped the future of all art forms. Straying away from historical influences, mid-century modern pushed the boundaries creating something new with no historical reference or visual composition. Instead, strong angular lines, symmetry, and clean sleek designs took over the exteriors and interiors of every new structure being built during this time period. In fact, it was so influential, we can still see many of these influences alive today and making an impact even on future designs. One incredible example of this would be Palm Spring, California – the mecca of the ‘50’s mid-century architecture design. Everything from the homes, clubs, restaurants, and hotels all give off a retro, mid-century vibe with a perfect desert backdrop. Mid-century has made itself right at home in every architecture and design influences, and will continue to help shape and mold future trends.