Taking Mid-Century Modern Style to New Heights

by Rebecca Bourne in Designer style at home

It’s no secret that mid-century modern style continues to have a strong influence over the design world. 

Iconic design names like Eames, van der Rohe and Saarinen, continue to be highly recognised and used in contemporary interiors, and mid-century values continue to resonate with consumers. Pared-back elegance, clean lines and furniture design that’s as finely attuned to new ways of living as it is aesthetically pleasing is still at the forefront of the world’s design shows.

In London’s Southbank Tower, interior design practice 1508 London have created Project Reuben, an apartment with decor inspired by the building’s mid-century heritage, with no shortage of luxury elements. While mid-century furniture is often associated with the advent of mass production and the popularisation of design, many of the celebrated chairs and tables require the hands of skilled craftsmen and are being reproduced in luxurious woods and fabrics, while originals have become treasured collectors’ items.

Designed by renowned architect Richard Seifert, the Southbank Tower was built in the Modernist tradition of clean lines, unadorned finishes and light-flooded rooms. The Tower was originally constructed in 1972 but given a recent extension, and 1508 London have blended mid-century and contemporary to create this unique show apartment. They used Seifert’s guiding principle – ‘prestige without vulgarity’ – to inform the design.

From the open fireplace to the brass bar cart, there are plenty of vintage references, which sit alongside modern pieces. Design classics such Jacobsen’s Drop chairs and Bertoia’s Diamond chair allude to the building’s origins, but feel contemporary in the open plan space, which is flooded with natural light.

This bespoke marble fireplace references 1960s modernist homes.

With so many retro elements, it would have been easy for this scheme to seem dated, but 1508 London have used a contemporary colour palette and modern materials to keep it feeling fresh.

Instead of using the mid-toned teak and brown woods commonly associated with mid-century style, the team chose light parquet and stained dark shelving for a dramatic contrast. An emerald green velvet sofa and blush pink accents feel thoroughly 21st Century, as do the touches of brass, verdigris accessories and veined marble used to create the bespoke kitchen and breakfast bar.

“We commissioned one-off pieces to link the old and the new,” says 1508 London’s Creative Director Louise Wicksteed. The bespoke rug, which was designed by 1508 and made by The Rug Company, was inspired by original 1950s artworks, many of which had a celestial theme influenced by the ‘space race’. Popular throughout the mid-century, the linear design was kept to a monochrome colour palette, thoroughly suited to modern tastes.

The master bedroom contains fewer overt references to mid-century style, with some carefully chosen black and white artwork and an opulent python-patterned rug. But from the minimalist dressing table with slim, tapered legs to the bespoke bed with low headboard and side tables, each element continues to express Seifert’s rule of prestige without vulgarity.

This property is the perfect example of how to use vintage design elements without sacrificing a luxurious or contemporary atmosphere. Browse more of 1508 London’s projects here, or explore our selection of classic mid-century modern chair designs here.

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