Q. What is Mid Century or Retro furniture?

A. Technically any furniture made from the 1950’s to the 1970’s is deemed mid 20th century but it is the more streamlined, clean, modern styles that are termed Mid Century Modern and this is the most popular Retro furniture. The origins of the style started in the early 20th century with movements like Bauhaus with the ethos of using new technologies to create stylish, practical furniture that more people could afford. This was expanded upon after the Second World War with many talented designers from Denmark, America, the UK and mainland Europe.

Q. Is Mid Century or Vintage/Retro furniture expensive?

A. No. Retro furniture offers great value compared to most new furniture which is not as well made. If you travel to a Scandinavian furniture megastore (you know the one) you will find similar or higher prices without the craftsmanship or quality materials that go into Mid Century pieces. Some early examples by well known designers such as Arne Jacobsen and Charles Eames can cost a lot of money and people by them as investments but we don’t deal in that end of the market. Who wants the cat sitting on a €7,000 chair? But at the same time who wants to sit in an ugly, uncomfortable chair? We deal in mid priced furniture that is beautifully designed, well made but practical for modern living.

Q. Why is Mid Century or Retro furniture popular?

A. The main reason is the style. After the Art Deco movement from the 1920’s to the 1940’s designers tended to go for simpler more streamlined designs that in some way reflected other technologies of the time (aircraft, cars, architecture). Then by the 1990’s a very minimalist approach had left people cold and they looked back to the Mid Century furniture that was still very modern in style but had the added warmth of the materials used at the time. In the 1990’s the price of Mid Century furniture began to rise as demand grew, by the time of the World Wide Recession the prices dropped off but recovered and grew after the economy recovered proving that the popularity of Mid Century furniture is more than a passing fad.

Q. How do I use Mid Century or Vintage/Retro furniture in my home?

A. The idea of the style Mid Century Modern is to mix Mid Century pieces with furniture from other periods or styles. A 1960’s sideboard and lamp with an Asian rug and Grannies old rocking chair with some contemporary cushions for example. It is a great way to express your own personal style. If you live in a 1970’s house with all 1970’s furniture it would seem like you are living in a museum so the idea is to mix and match, have fun, and see how placing different pieces together can recontextualize them.

Q. How am I saving the world by buying Retro/Vintage or Mid Century Furniture?

A. As we sit back in our comfy retro arm chair we can be excused for a little self indulgent, fuzzy, warm feeling knowing we have held the throwaway society at bay by reusing a       perfectly good piece of furniture. Seriously though it is something to consider. Also that we are conserving our cultural history; many of these pieces of furniture are fine examples of developments in our industrial and creative output of the time.

Retro West – mid century funiture

Killasser, Swinford, Co. Mayo. email mark.retrowest@yahoo.com