5 Twists on Mid-Century Modern Classics

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Re-imagining iconic furniture may be considered blasphemous by some, but if done well, it can provide a new design experience that still honors the past. Sometimes these contemporary interpretations are sanctioned by the official manufacturer, while others are simply a product of individual designers, artists, and homeowners. Here are five tasteful twists that may convince naysayers to think again.

1. Color Twist: Wegner CH24 Wishbone Anniversary Edition

Colored Furniture
Image: Danish Design Store

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Hans J. Wegner’s Wishbone Chair, Carl Hansen & Son introduced 12 new color options. Palettes include the Ocean Series, shown above, as well as a range of greens and purples. As with the Anniversary Wishbone, old furniture can be completely transformed with a bold coat of color.

2. Upholstery Twist: Fritz Hansen and Maharam

Upholstery Chair
Image: Fritz Hansen

Unexpected fabric choices are a common twist on mid-century modern pieces. Last year’s collaboration between design manufacturer Fritz Hansen and textile company Maharam produced a series of unusually upholstered seating: to include the Jacobsen Egg and Swan chairs (shown). Like color, bold patterns can transform classic furniture; and limitless options can accommodate any space.

3. Material Twist: Eames Molded Wood Chairs

Modern Wooden Chair
Image: Herman Miller

The new Eames Molded Wood Chair by Herman Miller may be one of my favorite twists. Transforming wood veneer into such a curvaceous shape is nothing short of a technological miracle, and the result is absolutely beautiful! The warmth of the wood, iconic form, and comfortable design make it the ideal chair.

4. Design Twist: The Barceloneta by Serralunga

Modern Chairs
Image: La Mercanti

I’ve come across many interpretations of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, but the Barceloneta may be the most interesting. Leather seats have been replaced with molded plastic to create lightweight, stackable, seating suitable for the outdoors. Now patios can enjoy the same stylish furnishings as their indoor counterparts!

5. Artistic Twist: Eames Inspiration by Operation Design

Artistic Chairs
Image: Operation Design

The artistic twist speaks to my inner artist/DIYer (i.e., using mid-century modern furniture as a canvas for creative expression). In 2010, the Eames Foundation sponsored an exhibit benefiting Operation Design, where street artists reinterpreted the iconic Plywood Lounge Chair. The results ranged from the geometric to the fantastical.

So, what do you think? Do these new twists honor the classics?

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Desiré is a designer, blogger, and lover of all things glamorous. Though primarily a self-taught decorator, Desiré studied at The Art Institute, where she honed a distinct aesthetic largely influenced by the Modern Glamour movement, the theme of her popular design blog, Sukio. Not only is she considered a "closet fashionista," discreetly stashing handbags and shoes whenever possible, but, as an MIT graduate, she’s also an undercover nerd. Fashion, nerdom, and several years as a Washingtonian have combined to shape her unique perspective on interior design.