Joe Cianciotto on His Love for Midcentury Design

I’m Joe Ciancotto, and welcome to my corner of the Internet! I’m an architect from the Bay Area and it would be an understatement to say that I love architecture and design. My primary aesthetic influences are modernism, postmodernism, and neo-futurism. I am particularly fond of midcentury design. It combines elements of modern architecture but still retains an Old World feel. To describe it more accurately, mid-century modern style is an architectural, interior, product, and graphic design that describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965.

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What is it about this aesthetic that keeps us coming back for more over half a century later?

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Mad Men, you’re already familiar with mid-century-modern design. In fact, the term was coined in 1984 by author Cara Greenberg. She used it to discuss the signature looks of the 1960s in her book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s. Interestingly, this style doesn’t just refer to aspects of interior design. It is commonly used as a descriptor for any architecture, furniture, accessories, materials, and technologies that grew in popularity after the end of the war.

When you look at design projects that follow a mid-century-modern style, the one thing you won’t see is tons of excess. Rather than requiring a bunch of ornate embellishments, the mid-century look is all about stripping items down to their barest elements and letting their function become the star. Keep this in mind when it comes to choosing the items that will fill your space. Look for furniture that has clean lines and, if needed, multiple uses. Stick to décor items that are modern or geometric in their aesthetic.

Since mid-century-modern design is all about simplicity, it makes sense that this school of style would harbor a strong connection to nature. First, it’s important to consider how nature can affect the layout of the space. In mid-century architecture, large windows often play a key role. But anyone can work off those principles by making windows the focal point of your space whenever possible and making sure that they stay unencumbered from heavy drapery.

There’s a reason why mid-century-modern design is present in our consciousness after over a half-century since its debut. Whether it’s the clean lines, bold colors, or connection to nature, this school of style is currently making a big comeback in interior design and architecture.

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