Whether you are a seasoned collector of mid century modern furniture, or still relatively new to the acquisition game, you might be somewhat flummoxed about the hefty price tags attached to the quintessential pieces.
The world-renowned designers Miller, Saarinen, and Eames define and emphasize mid century modern furniture culture, and their continued popularity nearly 60 years later highlights the timeless appeal of their wares.
One of the most noticeable features of mid century modern furniture is the sleek, streamlined, clean lines which make the pieces look simple, elegant, and well-defined. If you are wondering just how and where to invest your hard-earned dollars, here is an overview of some of the most valuable mid century modern pieces available today.
Barcelona chair by Knoll
The Barcelona chair was originally created by designer Mies Van Der Rohe. It is a much celebrated piece, particularly because of the innovative way Rohe and his partner Lilly Reich experimented with materials – eventually replacing pigskin with bovine leather, and introducing a seamless stainless steel frame to accentuate the smooth look of the piece.
Knoll is currently the only licensed manufacturer of the Barcelona chair, and it holds the trademark rights to the famous name. Knoll has substituted some of the original materials, but has diligently kept to the original specifications and measurements of the chair. The price of a Barcelona chair varies greatly depending on condition and origin.
Tulip Chair by Saarinen
The much-celebrated Tulip Chair, which was originally the brain-child of Eero Saarinen, is considered an industrial design classic. The curves of the chair and the tulip shaped base completely eliminate the need for chair legs, which melds perfectly with the mid century modern ideals. Saarinen reportedly stated that chair legs made him feel “disordered and uneasy,” and hence, he developed the Tulip chair for aesthetic ease. Post-1957, the Tulip chair has been manufactured by Knoll, and it is still gaining in popularity and value.
Womb Chair and Ottoman by Saarinen
This outstanding Saarinen creation came about in 1948, when Florence Knoll set him the challenge of designing a chair she could “curl up in.” The Womb chair, which is perfectly complimented by the beautiful ottoman, looks both striking and unique. It facilitates a relaxed sitting posture, and a comfortable snooze! The steel rod base and fiberglass shell are aesthetically pleasing, and one cannot help but marvel at Saarinen’s architectural skills.
Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames
The Lounge chair is one of the most easily recognizable and highly distinguished pieces of mid century modern furniture available. The molded plywood was a breathtaking development in its time, and it is still impressive to look at 63 years after its conception. The Eames Lounge chair encompasses luxury, elegance, and comfort – and it is one of the most sought after mid century modern masterpieces in the world today.
La Chaise by Eames
This wonderfully crafted organic form was developed by Eames as part of an earlier collaboration with Eero Saarinen. La Chaise was made possible by technological advancements in molded fiberglass, which allowed free-form shells to create flexible seating. Anyone who has had the opportunity to seat themselves on an authentic La Chaise will agree that it is certainly an innovation, and much more comfortable than it initially looks!
Authentic mid century modern furniture is definitely worth the hefty price tag, and it will almost certainly continue to increase in value. However, it is necessary to take great precaution when you buy, as there is a plenitude of unscrupulous and predatory dealers who try to pass off less valuable copies as originals.