HOW METAL TRANSFORMS MID-CENTURY AND NEW-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGN
When it comes to designing modern interiors, there’s a lot that goes into getting the right look. One important element is the use of metal in the design of contemporary furniture. Metal plays an important role in new-century modern design.
When it was first introduced as a material in furniture, the use of metal literally drove an entire design revolution.
It possessed the properties to transform the look of an entire environment, and brought a new-found lightness to furniture design.
It was a perfect fit for the times. The mid-century ushered in a host of designers looking for cleaner, simpler and more functional designs. Designs that would lend themselves to a more simplistic, minimalist aesthetic.
There was also a push to explore new materials and a pursuit to support a new way of living. Metal quickly took its place as an important element in this new era of design.
Tubular steel was first introduced as a material in Italy in 1909. Much credit for its original application in progressive furniture design should go to lady entrepreneur, Charlotte Perriand.
After her exhibition in Paris, Le Corbusier hired her as his furniture designer for his Atelier in 1927.
Mart Stam had also introduced his version of the tubular metal cantilever chair a year earlier. And so, the metals revolution in furniture design began.
Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair No. B3 was influenced by his fascination with the shape and form of the handle bars on a bicycle. One of his most famous pieces, made for Wassily Kadinsky. It’s been widely copied through the years.
Mies Van Der Rohe and Lilly Reich designed the Barcelona Chair No. B3 for the German Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929. It was the country’s entry, and was named for the host city of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
The Barcelona chair has become an icon of the modern movement. With it’s clean lines and simple elegance, it epitomizes modern design.
Charles and Ray Eames later designed chairs for Herman Miller in the 1940’s and 1950’s introducing an entirely new sensibility and look. They believed in design as a solution, that it should serve a purpose.
Thin steel rods gave mid-century furniture its distinctive splayed leg, light-on-its-feet look. The inherent strength and durability of metal opened-up a new world of design that couldn’t be accessed with earlier materials. It allowed designers to get away from the chunkier look of wood, especially in furniture legs.
All these pieces by these original designers are still being reproduced for current times. Interest in them has never waned.
Today, metal detail continues to help define contemporary furniture and new-century modern furniture design. As Jeff Vioski, founder and designer of VIOSKI, says, “metal not only lightens the piece, and adds elegance–it lightens up the entire look of the room. When I design a room, it’s about the whole room and not just one piece.”
There’s no question metal enhances a clean, simple or minimalist aesthetic. But beyond the look, there are things you should consider when buying furniture pieces with metal features.
If a piece has metal legs, look for a steel reinforced base to assure the legs will not bend or break with wear.
VIOSKI builds a steel base under the entire piece of furniture to give it more structure and strength. The metal frame then also provides a design detail around the base of the piece, in perfect proportion.
Also consider the finish and type of metal. Weather plays an important role. Corrosion, or rust will occur if not properly powder coated or finished.
If the environment is near the ocean, you need to choose stainless steel. The big advantage of stainless steel is that it won’t rust. Salt destroys other metals.
Stainless is also a more difficult weld. If not done properly, it results in a rainbow effect. So, it typically adds some cost to the piece. But well worth it if you’re close to salt water.
The next thing to consider is finish. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
A satin-brushed chrome finish is nearly always a good choice. Polished chrome is a pain because it shows fingerprints, any imperfections in the metal, and gets dinged easily.
Matte black is not as widely used, but it works perfectly for specific pieces. Some furniture designs simply lend themselves to a particular finish.
No matter what the finish, metal plays an important role in the new-century modern aesthetic. Whether in wide open spaces, or small spaces you want to lighten up, the light touch of metal can transform an entire room.
We’d like to hear your thoughts on the use of metal in interiors or furniture design @ vioski.co/blog
VIOSKI is an experience of artistic expression brought to life in timeless furniture design. Unique in style, charismatic and sensual. Each piece is masterfully created to be simple yet complex. Proportional yet fluid. Handcrafted in California by master artisans who devote themselves to extraordinary quality. VIOSKI is New-Century Modern.