Mid Century Iconic Chairs in Eclectic Design

Over the last couple of years, doing eclectic projects for clients and now a pure mid century one has introduced me to the world of mid century iconic furniture.  Besides the Louis, Gustavs, and Victorias of previous centuries whose names are forever associated with the design of their times, the 20th century often saw the maker or designer receive the iconic status.  And I love mixing a mid-century piece into an otherwise traditional design just to add some lightness and levity.  Some of my favorites in the mid century chair category:


I’m embarrassed to say that for years I thought Charles and Ray Eames were brothers.  So sexist!  Ray was Charles second wife and together they created many iconic designs, one of which is their lounge chair in the 1950s–one of my faves:

eames lounge chair


You can find reproductions at most contemporary and modern furniture stores like Design Within Reach.  But I was ecstatic to score this vintage one for my client last year:



I didn’t get a great shot of the chair but there it is in the bottom right corner–with the footstool.

The Bertoia Side Chair (original version was the Diamond Chair with  a different shape):

Designed in the 1950s by Harry Bertoia, a contemporary of the Eames, this chair looks light and airy and is a nice complement to a room that may be feeling too heavy or serious.  I love them as kitchen dining chairs with a really rustic farmhouse table:

Bertoia side chair


The Barcelona

 This was the chair I was originally looking for for the bachelor pad but sometimes you have to rethink your plan when opportunity arises!  The chair oozes sophistication and high design to me.  It would look good in almost any room.

Designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich in 1929 for an international exposition in Barcelona, it became wildly popular.   Van der Rohe was of course an early arbiter of modern design and along with Frank Lloyd Wright and others, he is seen as one of the founders of modern architecture.  I would love to put two of these beauties next to each other with a green or brass garden stool in between in a masculine living room with this caramel leather.  Gorgeous!

Barcelona Chair


The Wishbone Chair

Designed by Hans Wegner in 1949, I love the look of these for dining chairs or even paired as occasional chairs in a living room.  The texture of the rush seat adds so much warmth to this design.  (By the way check these out at Advanced Interior Designs for only $198 a piece.  Much better than the $600 or so at other retailers).

Wishbone Chairsource


The Egg Chair

Similar to its even more mod relative, the egg pod chair, and its other relative the swan chair, this beauty was designed by Arne Jacobson in the late 50s and is my favorite of his designs:

Egg Chair


I much prefer this one to the pod chair because the egg is like the teenage great granddaughter of the wing-back.  You can see the lineage in it and I think that makes it more versatile.


The Tulip Chair

Designed by Eero Saarinen also in the 1950s, I love these for desk chairs.

Tulip Chair


Camille and Wendy of Walrus also had an amazing vintage tulip chair for sale at our last flea market with beautiful upholstery in good shape.  The guy who bought that really scored.  Here’s theirs:

Walrus Tulip Chair


I actually even prefer the tulip table mixed with some other chair for dining–maybe the Wishbone or the Bertoia?


And I have some mid century chairs similar to the ones above in my very traditional living room although I don’t think they’ve ever made it into a photo.  Here’s the best one I could find:

eclectic: mid century chairs in traditional living room


Being totally honest here, it may be a while before these chairs are ever viewed from the front.  The kids have pulled off the buttons (I think initially it was an accident but then became fun…) and torn holes in the upholstery and now the stuffing is starting to come out.  Things I never thought I’d say: “Stop pulling the stuffing out of that chair!”

What about you?  Do you have any favorite icons from the mid century?

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