The Evolution of the Mid-Century Modern Chandelier


Ok, first off, don't swing from the chandeliers, ok? It's dangerous and you're going to damage a really great piece of lighting. And that, as far as we're concerned, is inexcusable. Would Don Draper do it? The answer is no.

Now we got that out the way... Your quintessential mid-twentieth century home was a place of smooth lines, clear colors and design inspired by the atomic age.

It was where form and function lived in matrimonial bliss with the help of a little mood lighting and a decanter of single-malt Scotch.

Speaking of mood lighting...

Adjustable lighting

Function was - and still is - of primary importance with Mid-century Modern design and even more so with lighting. Lamps, sconces and ceiling fittings that could be moved and adjusted to suit the occasion were sought after, and the classic chandelier found an entirely new form.

Light fittings that were decorative enough to be stylish, yet small enough to fit into a regular living room became popular, and chandeliers and ceiling lights became a functional objet d'art.

Murano Glas Tube Chandelier for Mazzega "Space Age"

"Space Age" - $3,800

The ordinary and the opulent

Of course, not everyone was living in a neat little suburban home. Some were making big money in booming new capitalist industries like advertising, or taking part in the Space Race or doing their best to climb the social ladder following WWII's devastating effect on the world.

Across the pond in England, many of the social structures were breaking down and the nobility falling on hard times even as the common man rose.

Much the same was happening in the US, with baby boomers raking in the cash that their parents were so sorely missing during the depression, making a better life for themselves and their children, living the American Dream.

Why not, in those situations, show off a little wealth, splurge a little here and there? And while your furniture was there to be moved on a whim, able to quickly adapt to your shifting moods and circumstances, spending a little cash on a fixture like lighting... well, why not? And so much the better if you could celebrate the atomic age at the same time.

Sputnik Chandelier

Sputnik - $13,500

The TV Factor

Television was also becoming big news in the 1950s. The perfect home was being showcased in comedy shows and dramas alike, the ideals of the age upheld in glorious black and white. 

Theme pieces also became de rigeur, with popular culture slowly creeping into design. This would, of course, pave the way for Andy Warhol's later pop art movement, but for the time being, it was simply fun to play around with television and movie inspired themes.

Ulla Darni Sunset Horses Chandelier

Sunset Horses - $5,600

I've said it before - lighting is one of the easiest ways to introduce an element of design style into a room, or to really enhance and round out an area decorated in your favorite style.

Just a flick of a switch, and your Mid-century Modern chandelier is going to let everyone know where your decor heart lies.

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  • Matthew Pillet
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