In the days of yore, when cocktails were shaken, not stirred, and the clink of ice cubes in crystal glasses resonated through the homes of the chic and fabulous, the Mid-century modern sofa emerged as the pièce de résistance of interior design. Picture it: the 1950s, an era when the world was still finding its post-war footing, and designers were crafting pieces that would redefine the very essence of cool.

These sofas, darling, are not just seats; they are time machines that transport us to a bygone era of Mad Men and Audrey Hepburn’s effortless glamour. The lines are clean, the legs are slender, and the fabrics are as inviting as a well-crafted bon mot. It’s as if these sofas were designed to say, “Sit down, darling, and let’s discuss the absurdities of life over a martini.”

Mid Century Modern Classics

Mid century modern style sofas can be found these days in most of the large furniture stores and there is a dazzling array to choose from. Allow me to guide you through the nuances to find the style that suits your mid-century vibe.

In 1929 an International Exhibition was held in Barcelona. Mies van der Rohe designed the German pavillion and the “modern” world dawned. He also designed the eponymous Barcelona Chair and foot stool to go inside it. Almost simultaneously his contemporary, Corbusier, was working on a redesign of the classic club chair. He created the LC range. LC1 being an armchair, LC2 the two seater sofa and so on. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Florence Knoll created her lounge collection but it is redolent of the works of these modernist forerunners. The licensed editions of any of these designs will set you back thousands. Fortunately there are some wonderful copies that are affordable for most budgets. Which was what these designers were aiming for with their egalitarian vision in the first place.

If you want a truly timeless style and to own a piece of 20th century history I recommend choosing one of these modernist classics.

Mid Century Modern: 1950s and 60s Mad Men Style

Don Draper’s pad

This is where the more pronounced mid-century style features emerged. They feature winged and buttoned backs and splayed legs. Oh those legs – they’re not just supportive structures; they’re the exclamation point at the end of a design sentence. Tapered and poised, they elevate the entire aesthetic.

And let’s talk materials, darling. The Mid-century modern sofa is not content with mediocrity. No, it craves the richness of teak, the warmth of walnut, and the cool sophistication of leather. Or maybe it’s a Jackie Kennedy style sofa, draped in boucle, like her Channel suit? Often upholstered in Draylon back in the day, now more likely to be covered in luxurious velvet. Suitable hues inlcude petrol blue, olive green, burnt orange, mustard and elephant grey.

Sexy Seventies

Let’s move forward to the louche and sexy seventies. Take, for instance, the iconic bean bag chairs and modular seating arrangements that allowed for endless possibilities. Comfort was king, and lounging was an art form. I like to picture a rock-god like Lenny Kravitz, reclining on a Togo modular sofa, surrounded by floor cushions and the sweet sound of vinyl spinning in the background.

I have to admit to having a bit of a seventies fetish right now. Maybe because it is so darn decadent. Just add a shag pile white carpet and a black glass coffee table and you have the party pad to end all party pads. For the real seventies vibe you should aim for a corner sofa; a base that goes right to the floor and cushioning that’s nice and squishy. This is not the time for formality. Invite your friends over, kick off your shoes and reeeeeelax.

So, which style of mid century modern sofa is for you? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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