Having not previously worked in retail or the furniture industry, I was somewhat taken aback as to how popular mid-century modernism has become. It truly is a revitalization. Of course I was mesmerized, as were many millions of others, with the show “Mad Men.” It was such a fun series and for me, having been born in 1964, in the Bronx, it was a major flash back to, well, childhood memories. Having parents from Scandinavia meant that our aesthetics were a blend of American mid-century modern and classic Scandinavian design.
Room & Board has many pieces that could have been taken straight out of “Mad Men” and as a matter of fact, some of our mid-century collection was used in the show. Here in Boston, we have a room that we call the Mad Men room with our Reese Sofa Sectional and Beau Chair. I’ve been wondering what it is about the style that is resonating with the younger generation and bringing new life into this era? I’ve found that most customers my age and older like the style as it brings back memories, but to redo the past by furnishing their homes again with that same style? Not so sure. For me, it would be like starting to wear my Norma Kamali sweatshirt mini-skirt again. Not happening.
I think one reason for the resurgence of colors like olive green, firm cushions, and tapered leg sofas is that in many cities, especially the more progressive, hip cities, mid-century homes are affordable for first-time buyers. But unlike generations before them, which usually renovated and changed the houses to make them look traditional, they are currently being restored and furnished according to the time but with a fresh, modern way. The fabrics used today, while retro, are updated and fun but also livable. They’re soft, durable and much easier to clean, and the lines of sofas and chairs are simple, elegant and timeless. Although the styles are similar to the pieces from the 50s and 60s, they are redesigned to fit our modern lives. This is a good thing because while the styles were super cool at the time, updated versions are definitely a plus as some aspects of the furniture back then simply were not so great.
As I recall during my childhood in the Bronx, those hot, hazy days of summer without air conditioning, while wearing my culottes, I would always stick to the plastic covering my mother had on the sofa to protect it. But between the cigarette smoke, the humidity and the smog, it’s a wonder I’m made it through to the 70s. But to cool off on those hot days, we’d all climb into my dad’s green Mercury Montego and take a drive to Howard Johnson’s or Carvel for a cool treat. Orange sherbet was my favorite. What was yours?