Mid-Century Modern Design Goes Global

Jane Foster creates her fabrics in a small town in England. Courtesy of Jane Foster

Wherever you go in the world, it seems, mid-century modern design is coming to the fore. What really makes it exciting is how subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, different the style is in each region.

It’s also great to see the work of a lot of great designers who are unknown to most of us in Northern California.

Jane Foster's work suggests the child-like quality seen in so much mid-century modern design. Courtesy of Jane Foster

Take Australia, for example. A major exhibit of modern design just opened in the National Gallery of Victoria. ‘Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design’ features work by Grant Featherston, Clement Meadmore, Douglas Snelling, Gordon Andrews, Fred Lowen, Lester Bunbury, and Schulim Krimper, among others.

“The scheduling of Mid-Century Modern is timely as retro furniture, lighting, and industrial design is a leitmotif for 2014 interiors,” Margaret Knight writes in the Australian journal Financial Review, adding:

“Warehouses in Sydney and Melbourne offering repro retro are thriving too, thanks to the ubiquitous Mad Men television series as tables and lounge suites conjure up vintage images of television consoles, pillbox hats and, of course, two-tone Holdens.”

A Holden is a car.

In England, signs that mid-century modern has taken hold include the whimsical and charming work of Jane Foster, who turns out fabrics and bags, pillows and more, screen printed and influenced by Marimekko, from her 'contemporary modern eco home' in the charming town of Totnes.

A Grant Featherston living room setting at Hotel Federal exhibit 1953. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria

“We collect furniture from the '50s and '60s, in particular patterned Formica pieces and birch ply chairs, which complement our contemporary home,” she writes.

A quirky sense of style characterizes the Argentine retailer Mid Century. Courtesy of Mid Century

Her hairstyle is even mid-century modern.

In Buenos Aires, too, people are picking up on the style. The firm Mid Century handles some of the wildest objects you can imagine, from rugs and lighting to furniture and vintage tape recorders.

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