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The Retro Workplace - Current Trends in Office Furniture

Oct 31, 2014 10:05:29 AM / by

From about 1933 to 1965, Mid-Century Modern was a popular style of architecture, interior, and graphic design. This movement was heavily influenced by international trends like the Bauhaus movement, in order to bring modernism into a post-war America. Mid-Century Modern design favored clean lines, simplicity, and integration with nature. It utilized non-traditional materials and techniques that had been developed during the war and had become available for domestic use.

Diamond-Emu-01.jpgWith this in mind, as you start to look at current-day office furniture manufacturers, you will start to notice that Mid-Century Modern is making a comeback in both vintage and retro applications. While some furniture lines never really retired from production, other collections are reviving the look and feel associated with Mid-Century Modern.

The Diamond Chair was designed by Harry Bertoia in 1952. This chair is made from welded steel that offers an almost “springy” feel. While typical furniture was made of wood, this innovate design used simple lines and an airy structure. Bertoia created this chair for Knoll Furniture, who continues to produce and sell it today. Other manufacturers, such as Coalesse by Steelcase, have refreshed designs that borrow Bertoia’s methods. The Emu Collection, a contemporary indoor/outdoor seating line, replicates the open, airy structure of the Diamond Chair. While Diamond uses thicker steel rods to form its seat and back, Emu uses a finer steel mesh and an open four-leg base which creates the effect that the chair is merely mesh fabric draped over an invisible seat.

Here is a table designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his Taliesin house in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Clean wood lines, open design,TablesTables-02.jpg and geometric shapes make you appreciate the craftsman’s work. Now look at this contemporary table by OFS Brands. Designed by Michael Shields, this occasional table mimics the architectural elements of the Wright table, but utilizes mixed materials to give it an updated appeal. Both tables make you want to stop and appreciate the engineering.

LoungeSeating-03-03-03.jpgThe first image is of a vintage, Arne Jacobsen 3300 Series Lounge Chair. This Mid-Century, Danish designer uses mixed materials, low back, and simple edges in order to create a cool and formal design. Today, similar designs to the 3300 Series can be recognized in lines such as Carolina Business Furniture’s, Rule of Three Series and KI’s, Lyra Lounge Collection. While Carolina’s design mimics the exposed metal frame, KI takes it a step further by complimenting the chrome legs with a laminate arm panel. Both designs feature low backs, rounded corners, and an elegant formal look.

From here, the list could go on. As you set out to update or install new furniture in your workplace, keep in mind what Mid-Century Modern inspired designs have to offer. They stand for new beginnings. It complements our endeavors to streamline and simplify workflows. In a day and age where we are embracing open floor plans, collaboration, creativity, and non-traditional work settings, these designs embrace our past while showcasing our future.


Topics: design, furniture, mid-century, modern, office, Phillips Office Solutions, retro, seating, tables, vintage, workplace, Workplace Interiors

Summer Walter

Written by Summer Walter

Summer Walter is a Marketing Coordinator at Phillips Office Solutions. Her topics of interest include: workplace interior trends and products, event planning, and PR. She also enjoys sharing interesting ideas, tips, and studies about workpalce solutions.

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