There's plenty to love about mid-century modern furniture – it offers a clean, minimalist look that has just the right amount of futuristic appeal, along with a small touch of nostalgia. It's little wonder why it's the hip choice for many modern homes and apartments. If you're looking forward to furnishing your home with mid-century modern fare, here are a few useful tips and tidbits to keep in mind.
Authentic vs. Reproduction
Mid-century modern furniture pieces can be called "authentic" if they're still being produced by the original manufacturer or by one that's officially licensed or authorized by the designer, just as long as the licensees adhere to the original design specifications. In some cases, the materials may vary due to improvements and changes in technology. As long as the design remains consistent with the original, it's still considered authentic.
Reproduction pieces, on the other hand, may look exactly like the real deal. However, manufacturers specializing in reproductions usually don't have the licensing or authorization to produce a direct copy of a particular design. That explains why so many reproduction pieces are often described as being "inspired by" the original designer. Others may plainly state that their designs are replicas of the existing originals.
Many authentic mid-century modern furniture pieces feature tags or stamps verifying their authenticity. In most cases, these certificates of authenticity will be placed in a discrete location, such as the underside of the chair. In others, the manufacturer will provide a paper certificate verifying the piece's authenticity. If you don't see a stamp, tag or plate on the piece itself, you can ask the retailer if it comes with a paper certificate.
Here's another helpful tip for finding authentic mid-century modern furniture: pieces that are listed for sale with multiple designers named may not be authentic, as most designers weren't known for collaborating with one another to produce iconic furniture designs, despite working for major furniture companies.
Vintage vs. New
There are those who prefer to furnish their home with brand-new furniture and those who want their purchase to have some patina to it. Both options offer their own merits, and the decision to buy vintage or brand-new really comes down to personal preference. However, there are a few things to keep in mind about each option:
- Given the collectability of many vintage designs, many older mid-century modern pieces are not only hard to find but also pretty expensive. In most cases, it's often easier and less expensive to buy a new piece that offers the same design elements.
- On the other hand, some vintage pieces offer design elements that have yet to be replicated in modern examples. Many vintage pieces also carry a great deal of history that new pieces simply lack.
If you're specifically looking for vintage mid-century modern furniture, you'll want to do a little research on the piece you're choosing, along with the designer and manufacturer, just to get a feel of what to look out for. It's a good idea to check for manufacturer tags and build codes to pinpoint precisely when the piece was built.
Looking In All the Unconventional Places
Consignment shops and thrift stores are great places to look for vintage mid-century modern furniture, but there's a good chance that others have the same idea. As a result, it can be a bit tough to find what you're looking for due to high demand and short supply.
One surprising place to look for mid-century modern furniture is your local university's facilities or surplus department. Many universities and colleges were big buyers of mid-century modern furniture, and most campuses constantly discard or auction off furniture that's still in great shape but often deemed "too old" to use. These pieces are usually sold at extraordinarily low prices or, in many cases, given away for free.
Fore more information on this topic, talk to mid century furniture dealers near you.