In this post, we curated a selection of the most famous Mid-Century Modern designers of all time. Click below the links to read the individual profiles detailing a short bio, describing their unique style, and their most famous masterpieces.
Eero Aarnio, one of the masters of Finnish interior design and pioneer of the mid-century modern movement. His distinctive design principles mix space-age modernism with pop-art. His masterpieces are still iconic today: the revolutionary ball chair, the bubble chair, the fiberglass tomato chair, the screw table, and the pastille chair
Joe Colombo‘s futuristic designs ranged from interiors, to a wide range of products and furniture. His innovative ideas were ergonomic and minimalistic and his home-living solutions integrated furniture, lighting, storage and domotics. His Elda chair – one of the most iconic Mid-Century Modern pieces – offers an unprecedented ergonomic flexibility.
Jean Prouvé was a French architect, industrial engineer and furniture designer but thought about himself more of an engineer and a constructor rather than a mere designer. Prouvé’s exceptional knowledge of metal remained the foundation of his work and career. His Standard chair assembled with light modular pieces evolved later into the lighter, voluptuous Anthony chair
Pierre Paulin: uncompromising, modern, individualistic, organic, uncertain, minimalist, classical, surprising, disappointed, unpredictable, sensual, enigmatic, free: the adjectives used are numerous and often paradoxical to describe the brilliant, taciturn yet visionary Pierre Paulin. His Orange Slice chair remains one the most iconic mid-century modern pieces of design.
Gold Medalist from the Architectural League of New York, Harry Bertoia was a mid-century modern furniture designer and sculptor. Best known for his iconic Diamond Chair and numerous monumental architectural sculptures. Bertoia being a thorough artist, was also passionate about music and its intersection with sculpture and design.
George Nelson contributed to the development of Mid-century modern through both his provocative writing and his innovative design. He constantly aimed at providing functional and aesthetic solutions to modern-day living. His iconic pieces span from furniture: Coconut Chair, Marshallow sofa, Typewriter desk, to objects: Ball clock, to lighting: Bubble light.
Hans Wegner learnt the art of crafting wood since the age of 13. Wegner’s prolific design embraces functionality and affordability exploiting his deep understanding of this material. His iconic MCM pieces include re-inventions of classics: like the Wishbone chair or the Peacock chair and innovations like the 3-legged Shell chair
The Italian Carlo Mollino was one of the most eclectic Mid-Century modern characters. He was a designer, architect, and photographer with a passion for erotic Polaroids, car racing, and the occult. Inspired by organic and anthropomorphic forms, his Cavour desk and Arabesco table are best examples of his sensual design.
Robin Day was one of the most acclaimed British Mid-Century Modern designers. His innovative furniture designs introduced materials such as steel, plywood, and plastic into the modern design world. His commitment to furniture durability and comfort led to mass-market successes like the ubiquitous Polyside and Polyprop chairs.
How can we write about Verner Panton without thinking of these attributes: eccentric, psychedelic, visionary, innovative? Panton quickly became successful thanks to his Panton Chair: a truly Mid-Century Modern icon. But it’s his particular vision of our environment that will leave us the most beautiful trace of his life’s work.
It’s hard to think of anyone who influenced Mid-Century Modern design as much as Charles and Ray Eames. Their work displayed newwood molding techniques as well as new materials like fiberglass developed by the US military . Their Lounge Chair & Ottoman is possibly the most iconic MCM design piece.
Gio Ponti is considered one of the masters of Italian architecture as well as one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. In addition to creating important works of architecture, Gio Ponti designed numerous pieces of furniture using artisanal and contemporary production methods: like the 699 SUPERLEGGERA chair.
A true master of Mid-Century Modern design, Eero Saarinen challenged traditional furniture design principles introducing innovative structural and aesthetic solutions. In his world legs were substituted by pedestals – like in his Tulip chairs – and armchairs by wombs in an exquisite and unique neo-futuristic style.
Arne Jacobsen’s work is one of the most personal interpretations of functionalism mixed with Danish traditional aesthetic style. Often his deep involvement in an architectural project led him to design also the furniture pieces for its interiors like the most famous: Swan chair and sofa, the Ant chair, the Egg chair.
George Nakashima’s work was guided by principles of Japanese woodworking, which he combined with Mid-Century Modern and American Shaker design styles. His appreciation for nature led him to emphasize the beauty of every wood burls, knot, and grain like in his series of Conoid tables and chairs.
17 – Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni: the light brothers
Castiglioni brothers’ approach to design was innovative, imaginative, and with a touch of humor. Their focus was on producing highly functional lights that were as practical as aesthetic. Their designs are still bestsellers in production today like their famous Arco and Taccia lamps and held in museums around the world.
Poul Henningsen was a romantic functionalist: the shapes of his signature PH lamps are not just an end to themselves, but based on scientific analysis of light diffusion. Like in his Artichoke lamp, the aim is to minimize the amount of harsh, direct light by producing a lighter, more reflective light.
Jens Risom uniquely combined Danish tradition with American modernism yet maintaining a simple, rational design. The “600 series” chairs add an American sense of taste to the Skandi style by using rustic, solid materials. With its gentle lines, his furniture present a concern for functionality complemented by a distinctive, organic element like in the walnut magazine table
Serge Mouille was an enlightening presence of the Mid-Century Modern design and one of the most outstanding French light designers of all time. His minimalist aesthetic, combining streamlined shapes with the vibrant luminosity of both metal and light, contributed to a body of work that still maintains its timeless appeal