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Why I Hate Mid Century Modern Furniture! A Rant by Rachel LaBoheme

Mid-Century Furniture

Mid Century Modern Furniture

I don’t want to begrudge anyone of the pleasure they get from Mid Century Modern furniture and decor. Certainly, there are many die-hard Mid Century Modern furniture fans out there. But many people walking into our furniture store over the years have asked, do you ever get any MCM furniture?

The answer is yes and no.

Over the years, we have sold a handful of Mid-Century Modern pieces. Honestly, these retro furniture pieces were kind of pretty in a weird way. (What can I say, we have great taste here at Bohemian’s.) 🙂

Mid Century Modern Furniture

Overwhelmingly, though, I hate Mid Century Modern furniture. Here are my Top Nine Reasons why.

What is Midcentury Modern furniture?

Simply put, Mid Century Modern furniture is furniture produced roughly in the years from 1940’s until the 1960’s. Design wise, however, Mid Century furniture typically has simple lines and very little ornamentation. Typically, because it has no fuss, it is regarded as very functional furniture. New materials like plastic, resin and plywood found their way into Mid Century style furniture.

Now for the Reasons why I dislike it…

  1. It’s Pretentious.
  2. Mid Century Modern ironically started in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the idea of “bringing design to the masses.” Many of the original proponents of this modern design trend like Bauhaus and Le Corbusier (how pretentious are these names?) actually designed simpler furniture so that it could be accessible.

    However, Mid Century furniture today is anything but accessible.

    Instead, it seems MCM furniture name-dropping helps the upper crust feel self-important and stylish. They brag about their Miller chairs and Eames pieces as if God gave them a special place in Heaven for spending way too much money on ugly furniture.

    Likewise, there is such snobbery that surrounds “original” pieces by famous Danish designers. To me, they look like simple prototypes for bad motel furniture. It’s as if Motel 6 decided to save money this year by making these plywood chairs for their lobby.

  3. It’s Mass Produced.
  4. I love furniture. And I love factory produced furniture by Vintage makers. But Good Lord, high end factory pieces often take hours of workmanship to produce. A single Kittinger Clawfoot leg, for instance, can take several days for a craftsman to carve.

    However, most MCM and MCM knock-offs are made by machine, and quickly. Indeed, the look of MCM furniture often echos this “machine aesthetic.” Stark, inorganic and cold, these mass produced pieces lack the handwork of other vintage furniture styles.

  5. It’s Overdone.
  6. Mid Century Furniture styles have been reinvented in a thousands of different ways by high and low companies. Let me tell you, there just doesn’t seem to be enough diversity to keep reliving it! How many low back square sofas with stick legs can we tolerate?

    As Michael Boodro (former Editor in chief of Elle Decor, of all places) says in this article from the New York Times, “Your eye does get bored. Twenty years ago, when midcentury was first being discovered, you could do a straight interior, and that was exciting. People want to go beyond the expected.”

    Twenty years, people. There are really only a few things with that much staying power. Maybe Michael Jackson. And reggae. But it’s time for this overdone style statement to be over! RIP Mid Century Modern.

  7. It’s not as comfortable as they say.
  8. I don’t know about you, but the comfort level of MCM seems to be greatly over exaggerated. I see these little square dining chairs or low seated living room furniture with 1.5 inches of foam and I fail to feel the urge to snuggle up and watch a movie.

    Give me a dated 1980’s rolled arm sofa over a 1960’s Danish nightmare any day!

    PA House furniture
    Say yes to (tasteful) 1980’s sofas! Say no to Stick Legged Furniture!

    Likewise, I feel the itchy mohair of many Mid Century Sofas to be less than ideal, which brings me to my next point…

  9. The materials used are cheap!
  10. Plywood, plastic, mohair, vinyl, fake wood! Tell me again why I should buy this thing for well over $1000? I guess the one thing that makes MCM attractive is that is generally not as heavy as fine furniture…?

  11. It’s Group Think on every Level.
  12. I just don’t like conformity that much. The ubiquitousness and popularity of MCM just makes me uncomfortable.

  13. The Design Versatility is Questionable.
  14. I hear people say it all the time. “It’s just so versatile. You can put it anywhere and with everything.” This makes me say, “What the…?”

    I get that some people find it “surprising” and “fresh” to “juxtapose” their Victorian house with “Mid Century Pieces” (sorry, that was a lot of air quotes!) but I frankly fail to see the design versatility. To me, a piece of Mid Century Modern sticks out like a sore thumb in nearly every setting.

  15. It encourages minimalism.
  16. Minimalism requires way too much purging and editing for me. I like to put all my pretty things around so that I feel life has a reason for living and that reason isn’t some sort of cruel joke. Sorry, minimalists. I don’t get it.

    After all, this isn’t Moscow (yet), and I want some variety of color, rich patterns and glamorous accessories! (The layered Traditional look calls to me in a much deeper way.)

  17. It reminds me that Millenials have no money, can’t think on their own and have to live in apartments to survive.
  18. Sorry snowflakes (aka Millenials)! This one is a tough one. I feel that our generation could be the most susceptible to marketing schemes. And to me, Mid Century Modern Furniture is like the Emperor’s New Clothes. In many ways, furniture stores and online conglomerates (Wayfair, West Elm, etc) found a gullible market in order to further their agenda of selling cheap low-quality furniture for high prices.

    Plus, they figure, we can screw a peg leg into a piece of sawdust (as long as it’s pre-drilled) after all those years of our pricey educations.

    Furthermore, since we have no money or job prospects, living four to an apartment until our late 30’s seems like a great time to introduce this lightweight and small apartment-sized furniture to the masses. Dare I say, Ikea?

      So that’s my little rant about Mid Century Modern Furniture!

      What are your thoughts on this design trend? I would love to know whether you agree that it’s time for MCM to die or whether this truly is a classic here to stay!

      Thanks for reading!
      Rachel LaBoheme
      Head Creative Director of Bohemian’s

36 thoughts on “Why I Hate Mid Century Modern Furniture! A Rant by Rachel LaBoheme

  1. I was born in ‘66 and have very found memories of MCM in my grandparents and relatives homes. Later on my mom preferred 70’s decor and that progressed to country (duck decor and lots of blue and yellow with antiques). What many of you find hideous, some of us find nostalgic and warm. I’m past the years of loving clutter in my home and was given my grandmothers MCM hutch along with her dishes. I’ll proudly display that along with the modern furniture I’m collecting. People always tell us how warm and cozy our home feels- not everyone associates MCM with cheap and cold. I never look at others decorating styles and demean them, we all love what we love. Why make others feel bad for that?

    1. The article is tongue and cheek.

  2. Oh my!!! I googled “Why in the h3!! are people buying NEW HOMES and decorating them like they’re in the 1960’s or 1970’s???” and I found your post! A feeling of relief came over me as I realized I am not alone in thinking the resurgence of these trends have never had comfort, staying power, and CLASS!

    I have found my people! I too enjoy going through my home and feeling comforted by the texture and depth of the pieces that I have, and I can see their style as having had many lives.

    Thank you for bringing some peace to my heart! ❤️

    1. Texas Girl <3! Thank you for your comment, and you are definitely not alone. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  3. This is brilliant!! Love the writing…the passion, the humor, the whole thing it is perfect!

    The hell with what Emily’s think. I want to your furniture becuase of this. Honestly the article on PA house was interesting for sure but I would.have forgetten about quickly your site of I didnt read this. That because your writing/stance has evoked emotion in people. So much so it causes the Emilys to respond negativily and people like to stand up and say hell yeah ebohemians are my people. Writing that appeals to everyone sells is also forgotten by everyone. You want people to love and as importantly hate your writing. Im typing this on my. phone because I felt answer and never bother to comment or review things. Please do not be more careful with your writing. Double down on this style. We are your tribe and we want someone to stand up and say this stuff and with humor.

    I own a marketing agency so.I know what talking about. You have pure gold right here. Your tribe has spoken lead us!

    1. Thanks Nev! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  4. What a boring and uneducated rant

    1. Thank you for your opinion, we all have them and we are all welcome to our tastes, happy decorating.

  5. So agree with you regards MCM – I was a child of the sixties & grew up with those awful kidney shaped coffee tables with spindly legs with metal caps set at an angle looking like the whole thing was about to collapse even though it was hand crafted well by my father – not mass produced. Awful plastic laminated faux wood grain furniture, hard edges or wonky shapes, vinyl seat cushions, shiny sterile steel – much of which looked more suited to a hospital ward than a home. Then it all continued into the 70’s with plastic/synthetic everything unless it was macrame which was everywhere (I see that is making a comeback) & all overblown patterns – from wallpaper to fashion & all that brown, orange & lime – uggh!

    I also agree with the comments by one person regards ‘modern’ farmhouse style – yes, all those ‘inspirational’ signs & mass produced ‘farmesque’ themes are so overdone & I cringe when I see those signs shouting ‘farmhouse’ on suburban walls, ( I actually live on a farm, in a traditional style farmhouse & would never have such signs, or cows & chickens dominating my decor, but nothing wrong with farmhouse sinks if they look authentic). Real traditional/vintage rural style is simply a less affluent, slightly more rustic version of the high end furniture of the 1800’s to early 1900’s. The true ‘farmhouse’ style today is still traditional, warm & comforting, simple but aesthetically pleasing furniture left with it’s original wear suited to a mellow rural lifestyle. But to me at least the modern mass produced farmhouse style is trying to echo poorly a style that in itself is pleasing, whereas the MCM revival echoes a style to my eye that was never anything but hard edged, cold & emotionless, whether it was hand crafted or mass produced – still looks the same.

    But also worth noting – just because a style becomes popular & gets components of said style mass produced – it doesn’t make that style in it’s true form less worthy of admiration, it’s the true form that is still one that is pleasing aesthetically & comfortably functional or not, & MCM to me was never either of those to start with.

  6. OMG! I googled “when will this mcm bullshit be over?” and up popped your blog. I loved it! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and can furnish their homes as they choose. However, it was extremely refreshing for me to read what I have felt for a lifetime. Seriously, a lifetime. I was born in 1962. That crap was ugly then and it’s even uglier now. Cheap hotel furniture is what it brings to mind with no regard for true comfort. I couldn’t care less if someone compliments my home and I’m a designer! I live here! When clients want that crap I tell them you don’t need me….that stuff is everywhere. I won’t be insulting but I don’t want my name associated with mindless, for-the-masses design. My home is my sanctuary and that is what I strive to create for others. Craftsmanship and quality always prevail. Thank you for a delightful read.

  7. I just googled “f*** mid century furniture” because I’m so disgusted and sick of this trend. I loved your piece. It’s absolutely group think and people following trends b/c it’s easier than thinking about what they actually like and who they are.

    1. Haha Jessica, couldn’t agree more. Thanks for reading!

  8. I love you!
    and f*** Mid Century Modern!

  9. I was born in the early sixties. I was raised with midcentury furniture in their original version. I hated since I was a child.

    1. Maria, you are not alone! I hear that sentiment quite a bit! Thanks for reading.

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