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Mid-Century Modern Style Gifts

Updated on January 10, 2014

Modern and Mid-Century Style

Modernism is more than a "look" and those who love it have more than a taste for a style... it's an attitude and a way of life.

The best Modern design has functionality with a clean simplicity of form and line that never goes out of style - and modern design often has wit, humor, and playful color that makes it a lot of fun to live with!

This Lens has a few suggestions for gifts that these discriminating folk (you?) may enjoy. A treasury of modern, er, Modern! objects and household goods designed from a mid-century modern point of view.

Take a style journey!

(On the wacky side of mid-century style, try Mid-Century Menu

A fun site full of recipes with waaaay too much gelatin in them!)

the Eames's California house, photo borrowed from retrorenovation.com
the Eames's California house, photo borrowed from retrorenovation.com

California Modern

In the early 20th century, California became a sort of Futureworld - home state for all things Cool and Modern. The rest of the world dreamed of classy, casual, modern living... with oranges and sunshine...

(The fact that architects/designers Charles and Ray Eames lived here helped put California on the map.)

Living in a Modern Way

A fascinating and well illustrated blog post at retrorenovation.com about a museum exhibit on California Modernism as a way of life.

Enter the World of Eichler Design

A wonderful site about one particular California house built by developer/builder Joseph Eichler with great images, a floor plan, and further information on Eichler and the house's architect A. Quincey Jones.

Mid-Century Home Style

A useful research page on the style.

Eames

The husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames designed EVERYTHING. Their home was the epicenter of the style and life-style we now call Mid-Century Modern. But they were just the most famous of the period's many designers..

Eames
Eames

A good book on Charles and Ray Eames - love the pictures of their influential house!

 
Eames Chair Exploded Print
Eames Chair Exploded Print

Chair as drawing as art.

 

Mid-Century Modern Explained

A brief explanation of the rise of Mid-Century Modern in America, with reference the Charles and Ray Eames among other designers. Worth watching!

Housewares

Perfect for on that Saarinen table.

Bowls

Modern artists also turn their talent to household goods... like this bowl.

Alessi Cactus 11-1/2-Inch Fruit Bowl
Alessi Cactus 11-1/2-Inch Fruit Bowl

I love these variations of the theme of "basket"... This one is nicely dense and geometric.

 

Clocks

What says "modern times" better than a clock? Here are some beauties! Designer George Nelson is famous from his mid-century modern clock faces.

Coatracks Etc.

And what are hat and coat racks but structural frames?

ioHOMES Chandler Coat Rack, White
ioHOMES Chandler Coat Rack, White

Kinda gorgeous and whimsical.

 

Art and Scupture

Mondrian. Klee. Georgia O'Keefe. Calder! Modern sculpture. Some of the most playful and most delightful to live with may be the mobiles - the moving sculptures - pioneered by Alexander Calder. Some of the following designs are inspired by his work.

Alexander Calder
Alexander Calder

A book on this modern master.

 
Calder necklace borrowed from Collecting Fine Jewels
Calder necklace borrowed from Collecting Fine Jewels

Modern Art Jewelry

Sculptor Alexander Calder made over 1800 pieces of jewelry. Here's a fascinating online museum show of Calder's jewelry design:

Alexander Calder Jewelry

A sampling of this modern sculptor's varied jewelry work at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Jewelry

Jewelry is a natural outlet for modern and architectural design. Artist Alexander Calder made jewelry for the women in his life and the designs of many other modern artists, designers, and architects have been adapted into jewelry.

the La Rosa bowl from the MOMA shop, click to follow the link
the La Rosa bowl from the MOMA shop, click to follow the link

The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art in New York is more or less the Seal-of-Approval for modern design. When a designer or artist has their work THERE... they're officially Cool.

Take a look at their museum shop - click the pic.

Art Museum Shops

Art museums are terrific places to shop for modern gifts. Look at some of these!

The Mid-Century Modernist, image borrowed
The Mid-Century Modernist, image borrowed

The Mid-Century Modernist

A website devoted to the style. News and articles, keep checking in...

(Today Ferris Bueller's buddy's modern classic house is for sale!)

The Mid-Century Modernist

Read all about it!

Visit this particularly cool article:

Don't Look Back

The She & Him Go 1950s music video

Bauhaus arts, crafts, and architecture.
Bauhaus arts, crafts, and architecture.

The Bauhaus taught a modern viewpoint in arts, crafts, and architecture.

Bauhaus

When World War II loomed, many of the teachers, designers, and architects at this famous German school of modern design fled to American... bringing Modernism with them.

Bauhaus Ashtray Material: Inox
Bauhaus Ashtray Material: Inox

Ultimate elegant minimalism. (Such a sculptural shapes doesn't need to be used for smoking.)

 

Frank Lloyd Wright

While the home-grown American talent, like Frank Lloyd Wright, kept on designing their own brand of Modern.

Bulova Usonian II Frank Lloyd Wright Clock
Bulova Usonian II Frank Lloyd Wright Clock

I love the sheer majesty of this not-that-big clock.

 

Vases

Decorative vases are another rich field for modern designers, among them Alvar Aalto of Finland, whose glass vase is a famous Modern icon.

Books

Read all about it! A beautiful book about the modern style of design as embodied in American tract housing....

Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes
Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes

"Atomic Ranch" doesn't that just sum up the period?

 
Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in 1950s Animation
Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in 1950s Animation

I gotta get this book! Such stylish drawing.

 
Mondrian Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue - believed public domain, from WPClipart
Mondrian Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue - believed public domain, from WPClipart

Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. Quintessentially Modern.

Links to Modernist Retailers

Hunting around the internet, I'm gradually finding places with a modern sensibility.

Please check back again later, as this list grows.

Help Keep this Lens Modern... - With up-to-date comments!

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    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @tvyps: Thank you. I love the period too - so much good design!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Wonderful lens. I love this period and fantastically done! Squid Angel blessed.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I've always loved the MCM period of style. Any time I see anything with hairpin legs, I try to grab it up. (they are still affordable pieces). Nice page!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @DanCooper: Thanks for reminding me of Eichler! i just added a link to a great site on one of his houses. Thanks for the visit.

    • profile image

      DanCooper 5 years ago

      Always loved the California Modern Look. Eichler and Eames. great lens!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @Close2Art LM: Thanks! Glad you could visit.

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 5 years ago

      cool page, enjoyed the art...:)rob