Mid-Century Madness: Exploring DC's Love Affair with Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Century Madness: Exploring DC's Love Affair with Mid-Century Modern

Kayne Rourke
Oct 19, 2011

What: D.C. Apartment Therapy Design Evenings
Who: "Mid-Century Madness: Exploring DC's Love Affair with Mid-Century Modern," with Suzanne McLees (center), Michael Shapiro (right), Rob Chapman (left)
Where: The Dunes
When: September 27, 2011
RSVP: 47
Organizer: Desiré Greene

September's Apartment Therapy Design Evening paid tribute to the wildly popular design period from last century's mid-century, a style that particularly resonates with DC-area residents. The discussion, lead by organizer Desiré Greene, featured an expert panel representing both Mid-Century Modern (MCM) architecture and furnishings: Robert Chapman, purveyor of MCM furniture, Suzanne McLees, former northeast director of Design Within Reach and resident of the modernist community Hollin Hills, and Michael Shapiro, blogger, realtor and MCM architecture expert.

Each panelist had a true passion for the period - lauding its genius and frowning upon knock-offs and potentially tasteless reinterpretations. Suzanne advised that it would be better to save your money for an authentic MCM piece than to purchase a low-quality copy. In fact, craftsmanship and durability ranked highly among MCM's celebrated attributes; "Buy once, buy right" and "investment" were two common themes throughout the night. However, the evening was not without a healthy exchange of opposing thoughts and ideas. The group even challenged the very notion of comfort. In response to a suggestion that MCM sofas may not be the most comfortable, Robert proposed that the idea of comfort may also be a matter of taste.

Aside from furniture, the group talked MCM architecture throughout the region. Michael shared his thoughts as a specialty realtor and warned against renovations that are in opposition to the architectural intent of a MCM property. In fact, the panel generally agreed that major reno to such a home is a no-no. The panel concluded with updates from each panelist:

After the panel's end, the conversation continued among small groups throughout. Attendees included contemporary designers, vintage furniture dealers, and other MCM aficionados. Also in attendance, Doug Meyers of DC's Modern Mobler, who believes MCM design should be both treasured and enjoyed. "Just be respectful of the furniture and be smart," he recommends. "Assuming you're not buying these pieces strictly as an investment, enjoy them as they were meant to be, used and appreciated daily."

Join us for the next DC Apartment Therapy Evening on Tuesday, October 18th when we'll be discussing the topic: "When to Spend: Mastering the Fine Art of High / Low."


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