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Mid-Century Modern: Interiors, Furniture, Design Details [Hardcover]

Bradley Quinn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Miller's Mid Century Modern Miller's Mid Century Modern 4.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2006 Conran Octopus Interiors
The 1950's house was a scientific triumph, designed in a laboratory and tested on inhabitants of all ages before being built for the masses. Never had homes been so thoroughly contemporary, with antiques and period styles entirely banished. Mid-Century Modern explores the interior decor of this seminal decade, concentrating on all aspects of a home's decoration-walls, flooring, surfaces, lighting, and, of course, furniture. Case studies examine beautiful present-day homes that exhibit mid-century style in an exemplary way, and suggest ideas for taking the 1950's look-complete with collector's pieces-and mixing and matching it with elements from other eras.

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About the Author

Bradley Quinn FRSA is an author and curator based in London, where he has presented the work of leading artists and designers in exhibitions based on his books. Bradley is also the author of Chinese Style and Scandinavian Style published by Conran Octopus, and Techno Fashion and The Fashion of Architecture published by Berg Publishers. A journalism graduate, Bradley also completed a master's degree in History of Art at the University of London, and has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.


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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book - well worthing buying! June 5 2011
Format:Hardcover
I've read many books on this topic - actually to be more accurate, I've looked at the pictures in many books for inspiration! Bradley Quinn has a very knowledgable and easy approach to giving an overview of the topic, and engaged me enough to read this work cover to cover. There is a good mix of background history, diversity through the style variations in different countries, giving both contrast and context. Many designers and manufacturers are mentioned to research further if you so desire.

I enjoyed this immensely and highly reccommend adding this to any library both as a solid grounding for building a collection in the topic, or just for a beautiful, well illustrated delightful read inspiring you to appreciate mid-century modern style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Pics April 28 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I look at the photos in this book often and when I have time I continue with the text. A very nice overview of MSM.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
94 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get the fifties look for your contemporary home Oct. 1 2006
By mojo_navigator - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Could someone possibly put together a better tome on Mid-Century Modern interiors than this exquisite piece by Bradley Quinn? They'd have one helluva tough time trying.

This book is fairly short and slim, yet every single page and photograph has relevance. Each photograph is of some aspect of a home interior and is absolutely fantastic. Not a single wasted shot. I'm assuming that the majority of people interested in this book are admirers of 1950s decor and would like to incorporate elements of this into their homes. What is so wonderful about this book is that the pictures themselves are of contemporary homes that have been decorated in that Mid-Century style, resulting in achieving that look without appearing dated - certainly the effect that I'm striving for! You want elegant beige lounges or loud primary colored kitchens? It's all here. And you just gotta dig the living room on p.42! Wow - have red and yellow ever been used to such devastating effect in such circumstances? And this is just one example of many.

Although it's doubtful that people buy books like these for their text, I think in this case, they'll be glad they did. Quinn discusses at great length the various components that made up the Modern style, providing tremendously useful ideas for home decor. He doesn't get into tedious sociological analysis like so many of these type of books do. Instead, he goes straight to the interesting stuff - how mid-century modern arose within the history of design, the components of the architecture and the lifestyles of the homeowners back then. Each chapter is broken down into a different aspect of decor - color, materials, lighting etc. Why can't all interior design books be arranged in this way?

I can absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for '50s ideas for their home. I doubt I'd ever need to buy another book on this topic. Unless Quinn sticks in more pictures for a second edition.
88 of 103 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great pictures. Text - heavy going. Nov. 21 2008
By Martin A - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What I liked about this book: It is well organised and it has lots of well-chosen, well composed, colorful and clearly printed photographs..

If you want inspiration and ideas, the excellent photographs will give you what you are looking for. Only one picture contains a human figure - the others let you concentrate on the design and the furnishings, with no distracting sign of any occupants.

Where the book falls down....

I found the writing is very heavy going.

On the dustwrapper, it mentions "Bradley also completed a master's degree in History of Art at the University of London".

It seemed to me that the book reads like a master's degree dissertation in which the writer's aim is to show his professor that he has thoroughly mastered the subject - rather than a book aiming to inform and entertain a general reader interested in the subject.

I'd read a paragraph and think "that sounds impressive - but what does it mean?" Then I'd read it again more carefully. At a third reading, I'd give up, not knowing whether it meant something profound or whether it was impressive-sounding but essentially meaningless.

A typical paragraph:

"The new styles of furniture took centre stage with the distinctive shapes that continue to typify the look today. While mid-century furniture is often recognisable by its balance of form and function, its impact resulted from its ability to convey the dynamics of lived experience in static form. Mid-century designers regarded furniture as tactile art intended to cradle the human form. Although the use of new materials and techniques pioneered a change of direction for furniture - with moulded and glued plywood, and plastics reinforced by fibreglass, among the exciting developments - the forms continued to take shape in relation to the human body. Designers used furniture to articulate the tension between movement and stillness, which can never be separated from the human body. Consequently, 1950s furniture often expressed a body-consciousness unknown to other traditions."

"... the dynamics of lived experience in static form." Huh?

".. to articulate the tension between movement and stillness, which can never be separated from the human body". Does this actually mean something that can be expressed in simple words? Dunno. Beats me.

The text is not always linked to the pictures. Descriptions of stylish objects in text, without linked illustrations are hard to follow. As just one example:

"In Isamu Noguchi's hands abstract art became applied art, In one of his sculptures, wood and glass were moulded into an arrestingly curvaceous silhouette that caught the eye of George Nelson, who identified the shape of a table in its form. An American manufacturer shared Nelson's view and in 1944 collaborated with Noguchi to transform the design into a coffee table. Organic in style, Noguchi's Coffee Table was manufactured with two wooden legs that interlocked to form a tripod, which supported a plate-glass top 2cm (3/4in) thick. Both parts of the design were reversible: the tabletop could be placed upside down or back to front, while the mirror effect of the tripod's design enabled it to maintain the same profile even when turned upside down. Needless to say, Noguchi's considered balance of sculptural form, design innovation and durable function inspired other designers of the period to pursue abstract shapes."

On checking the index, I found that there is actually a photo, earlier in the book, in which a part of such a coffee table is visible.

I recommend this book for its masses of interesting, clear and well-composed and chosen pictures of mid-century design. If you are like me, you'll finish up skipping over the text and enjoying it simply for its illustrations, which I found inspiring and first class.

Added 5 October 2010:

"About the Author" states "Bradley (...) has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society." This seems to be an error and would have been very surprising had it been correct - Fellows of the Royal Society are distinguished scientists.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some nice photos but superficial content Aug. 10 2009
By Kristine Nielsen Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was greatly disappointed by the lack of specifics included in this book. Many of the photos are provided as examples of popular mid-century styles and influences but do not include the designers who created them. If you're looking for decorating ideas, this book may provide inspiration. But for anyone already interested in mid-century modern design, this book comes up a bit short. It might teach you how to talk about mid-century design elements, but it doesn't go any deeper than how cool design from this period looks. I bought this book as I have a few mid-century modern pieces and I thought it would be nice to have a reference and examples from various mid-century designers... but it did not deliver.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Design Ideas Sept. 6 2007
By 30-Something in LA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is filled with spectacular color photos of mid-century modern home interiors. Lots of ideas here for color schemes, furniture layout and incorporating mid-century aspects into any room of your home.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mid Century Modern Aug. 1 2007
By Silver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An absolutely stunning book & a must for any mid ce
ntury enthusiast. Fabulous photographs & narration.
Very inspiring.
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