Mid-Century Modern Design a Complete Sourcebook –  Dominic Bradbury

Description: This definitive survey of one of the most popular, collectable and dynamic periods of international design offers a rich overview of all aspects of the subject. Mid-century furniture, lighting, glass, ceramics, textiles, product design, industrial design, graphics and posters are covered, as well as architecture and interior design, exemplifying post-war optimism and energy, use of innovative and affordable materials and forms of mass manufacture, and newly developed precepts of ‘good design’. Nearly 100 major and influential creators of the mid-century period are highlighted, whether based in Scandinavia, Western Europe, America, Japan, Brazil or Australia.

They include icons such as Saul Bass, Robin Day, Charles and Ray Eames, Marimekko, Isamu Noguchi, Dieter Rams, Lucie Rie and Paolo Venini, as well as architects Alvar Aalto, Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra and Oscar Niemeyer. An additional illustrated dictionary features hundreds more key mid-century designers and manufacturers as well as important organizations, schools and movements.The book showcases classic designs as well as little-seen rarities, and unusual objets d’art as well as mass-produced items. Complete with thirteen specially commissioned essays by renowned experts and over 1,000 mainly colour illustrations, it is a must-have acquisition for any design aficionado, collector or reader seeking inspiration for their home.



One of the most dynamic periods in our history was the mid-century when those growing up after the war witnessed such a rapid period of change.

As Bradbury states in his introduction,
’The world of mid-century design both mirrored the rapid changes in the 1950’s and 60’s society and helped in making them possible, as it worked to give shape and identity to a new kind of lifestyle and a new wave of consumer products. For many, the interiors, architecture and furniture of the period still feel fresh, modern and inspirational……Countless pieces of furniture from the period have achieved iconic status and become 20th century classics, with the originals much in demand for collectors and many now back in production. Mid-century glass and ceramics also enjoy a powerful reputation.

More than anything, the spirit of mid-century design can be characterised as pioneering. It was a time in which so much of the way we live now – and the products we use – was really shaped from inside/outside living to open plans, modular furniture, plastic products and gadget miniaturisation…The world of today, you might say was born in the 1950’s and 60’s.’

What this exceptional book illustrates so brilliantly are the very many examples of innovative and outstanding design, the contrast between the war period and what came afterwards cannot be over-emphasised. 

What we particularly love about this book is the detail, as a source book the content is outstanding
The content includes the following:

Media & Masters – Furniture – Lighting – Glass & Ceramics – Textiles – Product and Industrial Design – Graphics and Posters.

Every section is introduced with fascinating information written by renowned experts in this field, or offering advice.

The book is packed with the most stunning photographs which together with the information about each particular designer ensures a full understanding of the designer, their work and influences.

In the second part of this comprehensive book the focus is on Houses & Interiors which richly illustrates how not just interior design had changed; but the architecture, and the key characteristics of how people lived with more open plan spaces, integrated kitchens and an emphasis on indoor/outdoor living. It was also an era when young people started buying their own homes and took inspiration from the growth in interior magazines. In this section of the book there are beautiful examples from around the world, of homes created during this period, showing both the architecture and the interior design features.

In the final section there is a very useful A-Z of Designers and Makers with some illustrations.One of the wonderful aspects of being interested in mid-century modern design is that the people who lived through that period are now our grandparents and in some cases great-grandparents. Take time to talk to them, record their memories and watch their faces light up as they talk about the freedom and excitement from that era. Ask them what they remember about their parent’s furniture, show them the images from this book, and they may also have examples in their own homes. It’s so important to also capture memories of social history from this time, packed away in cupboards and attics are concert tickets, journals, posters and possibly fashion, or jewellery from that era which should be treasured and kept safe.

Good design never goes out of fashion, and although very popular, it is still possible to find wonderful examples of mid-century modern design. Importantly, as Richard Wright, (one of the experts featured in the book) mentions in Collecting Mid-Century Design, says,

When collecting mid-century design it’s important to buy what you love. Great collections exhibit the passion of the collectors. there is no reason to buy things you don’t love (even if they are by an important designer) Furthermore by buying items you are passionate about you can ensure satisfaction with your purchases. Make educated acquisitions by learning before you buy. This is my best advice ‘The more I know the more I see.’  When you educate your eye, you really do see things differently and appreciate the work more. So study the period and the materials.This will guide you in making better choices and will add to the overall experience of collecting. Finally buy the best you can afford.’ 

Mid-Century Modern Design is a wonderful place to start, Dominic Bradbury has created an absolutely fascinating, stunning and essential guide and it should be on the bookshelf of everyone interested in this period. Highly Recommended!