Collecting Mid-Century Modern Furniture

by Mark Astengo


Mid-century modern furniture has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with collectors and interior design enthusiasts alike seeking out these iconic pieces. Stemming from the mid-20th century (roughly the 1940s-1960s), mid-century modern furniture showcases clean lines, organic shapes, and innovative use of materials. This guide will delve into the history, key designers, and tips for collecting mid-century modern furniture.

The History of Mid-Century Modern Furniture

Post-World War II, there was a significant shift in the world of design. With a newfound optimism and a booming economy, designers began to experiment with new materials and techniques. This era saw the creation of furniture pieces that prioritized both form and function, as well as affordability and accessibility.

Key Designers and Brands

  1. Charles and Ray Eames: The Eames duo revolutionized furniture design with their innovative use of molded plywood, fiberglass, and wire mesh. Their iconic designs include the Eames Lounge Chair and the Eames Molded Plastic Chairs.
  2. Eero Saarinen: Known for his sculptural designs and futuristic aesthetic, Saarinen created iconic pieces such as the Womb Chair and the Tulip Table.
  3. Arne Jacobsen: A Danish designer, Jacobsen was a pioneer of the Scandinavian modern movement. His most recognizable designs are the Egg Chair and the Swan Chair.
  4. George Nelson: As the design director for Herman Miller, Nelson introduced many iconic designs to the market, including the Bubble Lamp series and the Slat Bench.
  5. Florence Knoll: A visionary designer and architect, Knoll played an essential role in popularizing mid-century modern design. Her most notable contributions include the Knoll Sofa and the Tulip Chair.

Tips for Collecting Mid-Century Modern Furniture

  1. Research: Before purchasing, familiarize yourself with different designers, their work, and the characteristics of authentic pieces. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and avoid potential forgeries or reproductions.
  2. Condition: The condition of a piece is crucial when collecting mid-century modern furniture. While some wear and tear can add character, excessive damage or alterations can diminish the item’s value.
  3. Patina: Original patina, or the natural aging of materials, is a desirable characteristic for many collectors. This can include slight fading or discoloration, which can add authenticity to a piece.
  4. Provenance: If possible, research the history and ownership of a piece. Provenance can add value and help verify authenticity.
  5. Budget: Mid-century modern furniture can range in price from affordable to exorbitant. Set a budget before beginning your collection and prioritize pieces that align with your personal taste and style.


The world of mid-century modern furniture offers a wealth of iconic designs, innovative materials, and an enduring appeal. By understanding the history, key designers, and best practices for collecting, you can curate a collection that reflects your personal style and adds a touch of timeless elegance to your living space. Happy collecting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.