What Will the Next Mid-Century Modern Be? 3 Contenders to Watch

What Will the Next Mid-Century Modern Be? 3 Contenders to Watch

Jessica Isaac
Oct 24, 2016

First off, let me preface this post by saying I think mid-century modern is a classic and versatile style that will be relevant in home design for many decades to come. Unfortunately for me, when a style becomes increasingly popular, I immediately start panicking about how soon it will lose its luster. If you like the historical charm of vintage furniture and also share my weird fear of committing to a popular design style, here are some predictions for the next throwback trend to keep you ahead of the curve.

From Eames to Baughman, mid-century modern furniture is known for its sleek lines and clever designs. Mid-century modern (or MCM if you prefer acronyms, or are perhaps writing an article about the 16-letter style), reached its peak in the mid-1950s through the 1960s and, if you haven't noticed, has become a staple in modern homes for the last decade.

This style is highly adaptable and especially conducive to a minimal home. Keeping things uncluttered is a timeless solution to create a peaceful aesthetic. MCM is currently championing the green movement to incorporate used furniture into your home, and its a hard style to beat.

That being said, here are my top three picks for the strongest contenders to head up the next trend in Craigslist searches...

(Image credit: Second Sale)

3. American Colonial/Shaker

Handmade craftsmanship was valued during America's colonial days. Traditional woodworking tools like pole lathes were used to create long lasting, simple pieces (like the classic Windsor chairs above, via Second Sale). In this new world, fabric—and even furniture—was seen as a luxury, so these pieces, although sometimes carved, feel a bit bare. In terms of celebrity comparisons, think more Gwyneth Paltrow, less Kylie Jenner.

(Image credit: Laure Joliet for Domino)
(Image credit: Zeke Ruelas)

Current uses of early colonial furniture are often seen in the dining room (a la Emily Henderson's crisp white take above), playing on its farm-to-table appeal (because with all that new land, everyone was a farmer). These sturdy, no-frills pieces adapt pretty seamlessly into any design while adding a dash of historical charm (the sleek chair above, spotted on Domino, is the perfect addition to a shiplap-clad corner).

Verdict: This classic American style spans around 100 years or so, unlike the coveted Eames chair, you're less likely to find the exact same design in your friend's house (bonus). The main reason I don't see this being the next vintage design star is because it's almost too timeless. As in, it never went anywhere. It would be like saying "jeans" are going to come back in style.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

2. Gothic Revival

Kudos if you recognize the above photo (via Warner Bros.) from Harry Potter (it's The Leaky Cauldron).

This style, which replicated Medieval design, took off roughly between 1840 and 1900, mostly in England and America. It features highly intricate wood carvings and castle-worthy materials like stone and brick. It's pointy, ornate and fortified to keep out your worst enemies (providing your worst enemies don't like cool stuff).

(Image credit: Nickey Kehoe)

This style may sound like a strange contender as the next versatile vintage furniture style, but hear me out. While the pieces may have ornate detailing (I'm swooning over the bench in the above entryway from Los Angeles design firm Nickey Kehoe), they're functional and made of high-quality materials, which helps them stand the test of time. Also, there's something oddly calming about the perfect symmetry in their intricate designs.

Verdict: While this style can be fun in the context of a clean and minimal home, it's sort of the antithesis of MCM. People who gravitate towards simple, basic pieces want their furniture to be able to blend in and Gothic revival pieces tend to command attention. Also, these types of antiquities don't tend to come cheap.

1. '80s Deco

Hailing from Italy, the Memphis Milano style popularized in the 1980s resembles something out of Picasso's childhood toy chest. Extreme versions feature abrasive primary color combinations on a variety of very basic geometric shapes. Less offensive post-modern '80s furniture, like the photo above from Architectural Digest via Flickr, seemed to hearken back to the Art Deco movement of the '20s, where concentric circles and soft, rounded edges took on a more timeless appeal.

(Image credit: Studio Pepe)

Modern versions of '80s Deco are great for the minimalist designer in search of a peaceful abode. Fun colors (used, perhaps, a bit more sparingly now as seen in the hushed yet glam vignette above, spotted on Domino via Est Living) and simple shapes help add character to a space looking to make a statement in a subtle way. (Above image via Studio Pepe)

Verdict: This style's softness and lack of intricacy rivals the minimal aesthetic MCM is known for. While it may be too soon for some to welcome this style back into their home, its not-so-distant placement in history means these original pieces are plentiful and easy to find. We wouldn't be surprised to see this style take over as the next go-to vintage furniture style.

There you have it, my prediction for the most likely candidate for the next vintage design darling. This is by no means a definitive list, nor a statement on what I think you should have in your home. Share your opinion below - let's hear it!

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