A Mid Century Modern Office Design

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Modern on My Mind

If you follow my Instagram posts, you know that mid century modern (MCM) design is on my mind so I’m really excited that it’s Modern Richmond week here in RVA.   I am currently working on a MCM inspired office design and this week I’m immersed in the designs of mid century architects around the city.

One of my well-traveled clients has gone from collecting antiques to collecting mid century modern and are furnishing their new partners’ office with MCM pieces from well-known modernist designers, fittingly in the International Style.

The Plan

The floor plan started with a desk and chairs purchased from 1stdibs .  The unique double desk has a deep teal blue Formica top, which will be the inspiration piece for fabric selections.  A daybed from Modern Classics allows the office to double as a guest room if needed. 

 

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Scaled Floor Plan Drawing of Partner Office

Scaled Floor Plan Drawing of Partner Office

 

 The French Double Desk

Double Desk, for Minvielle in ash and Formica, 1955

Double Desk, for Minvielle in ash and Formica, 1955

Close up view of desk drawers and Formica tabletop.

Close up view of desk drawers and Formica tabletop.

Pierre Guariche, a French designer and architect, designed the desk.  I believe this desk was part of a furniture collection he designed for various rooms in the home, including office furniture, for furniture manufacturer Charles Minvielle.

Over his career, Pierre Guariche collaborated with a number of furniture manufacturers to design lighting and furniture that is highly recognizable today. 

Who hasn’t been to a classroom or school lunchroom that doesn’t have a few of these chairs?  Guariche designed his Tonneau chair early in his career for French furniture maker, Steiner.  The chairs were of molded plastic and metal tubes.  They were inexpensive and easy to manufacture, which explains why we see them so often!

Tonneau  chair for Steiner, 1951

Tonneau chair for Steiner, 1951

 

The Danish Desk Chairs

Pair of Finn Juhl NV-51 for Baker Furniture Desk Chairs, 1960s

Pair of Finn Juhl NV-51 for Baker Furniture Desk Chairs, 1960s

Finn Juhl a Danish designer who helped create the “Danish design” movement in the 1940s designed the desk chairs.   

He is the designer credited with introducing the United States to Modern Danish, another mid century design movement that emphasized newly invented materials and manufacturing methods, simplicity and functionality in design.

The curves in my client’s desk chairs are indicative of Finn Juhl’s furniture designs:

Finn Juhl  Chieftains  Chair, 1949

Finn Juhl Chieftains Chair, 1949

Finn Juhl  Pelican  Chair, 1940

Finn Juhl Pelican Chair, 1940

Website  House of Finn Juhl, suggests that the Pelican chair’s “characteristic soft and organic shape is almost like a body holding a body. When you sit down, the chair practically gives you a friendly hug.”  We could all use a chair like that after a long day!

One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects, but one can spoil quite a lot of happiness with bad ones
— Finn Juhl, 1951
 

The Bauhaus-inspired Daybed – “less is more”

Mies van der Rohe inspired daybed

Mies van der Rohe inspired daybed

The couch was designed in 1930, by Mies van der Rohe, a German-American modernist architect and first brought to the U.S., for American architect, Philip Johnson’s New York City apartment.

In this Architectural Digest article, Paul Galloway, MoMA’s collection specialist, architecture and design, explains, “It’s an extremely simple way of delineating space. “It could sit against the wall or by a window. And because it’s low, it didn’t block the space.”    

All said, perfect for a small office space!

This reproduction for my client’s newly designed office, is elevated by the sumptuous materials, which were a hallmark of Mies’ furniture designs: luxurious leathers combined with stainless steel and wood. 

 

The Design Process

The “Before photo” below shows you how much of a change this guest room will undergo!

Current Guest Bedroom, Office

Current Guest Bedroom, Office

 

Working with inspiration photos and my cabinetmaker, I am designing a MCM inspired built-in bookcase to replace the bedroom closet.

Mid Century styled  Living Room .

Mid Century styled Living Room.

Bookcase design with built-in sectional  sofa .

Bookcase design with built-in sectional sofa.

To-scale concept drawing of built-in bookcase

To-scale concept drawing of built-in bookcase

 

Layering the project will be new window treatments, replacement fabric for the 1stdibs desk chairs and a new area rug; I’m thinking shag or at least a very textural rug:

Stark  Carpet area rug samples

Stark Carpet area rug samples

Fabric and finish inspiration board

Fabric and finish inspiration board

 

New task, ceiling, and floor lighting will round out the design.

Lighting options for ceiling, floor and desks.

Lighting options for ceiling, floor and desks.

Although, the bulk of my clients are looking for traditionally inspired interiors, I love having the opportunity to design a modern space.  Well-made modern furnishings are not only comfortable, but lend an airy feel to a room which highlights its’ architectural features.  

Stay tuned, as I’ll be posting photos on my Instagram of the completed MCM office design.