Eight Chic Midcentury Modern Design Finds

Help any Portland pad achieve moonshot-era liftoff with these high-octane doses of cool.

By Amara Holstein November 20, 2014

Table Top: Isamu Noguchi’s coffee table has been an icon of modern design since Herman Miller introduced it in 1948. Sculptural and sinuous, a sheet of glass perches elegantly atop a carved wood base, the perfect living-room centerpiece. $1,599 at Hive Modern, 820 NW Glisan St.

Ceramic Gems: Midcentury masters such as Ettore Sottsass Jr. and Aldo Londi contributed to the success of Italian pottery company Bitossi, with its chunky, hand-thrown ceramic forms. Robert Nathan adds to his growing collection whenever he spots one in orange. Find on eBay or Etsy.

Reading Material: Books like Neutra: Complete Works by Barbara Mac Lamprecht and Peter Gössel illuminate the architects who made flowing, indoor-outdoor spaces hallmarks of mid-century style. “They’re not there just for display; I actually look through them,” says Robert of his carefully curated collection. $69.99 at Powell’s.

Practical Seats: With their friendly arms and perky shapes, these modest bentwood seats were designed by Joe Atkinson for Thonet in the late 1950s. They surround the Nathans’ dining table, the seats still clad in their original orange vinyl upholstery. Find on 1stDibs.com or eBay. 

Mood Lights: Bill Curry created a line of cheerful lamps called Stemlite for his company Design Line in the mid-1960s. Glowing orbs and puffy mushrooms settle atop spindly supports in these sprightly lights—the Nathans have two in their offices. Find on 1stDibs.com.

Chic Storage: Though their homes might look sleek and minimalist, even midcentury modernists need a place to stash their stuff. The Nathans store their cookbooks, football figurines, and extra dishware in the customizable floating “Cado” wall units that Dutch architect Poul Cadovius created in 1957. Find Cado systems on eBay or Etsy.

Clean Lines: From the 1930s until a fire destroyed their company in 1970, Californian designers Van Keppel–Green made clean, functional furniture intended for both inside and out—and used by renowned architects like Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig. Find on 1stDibs.com.

Tile Style: “The shape is definitely reflective of midcentury—you would have seen partial entry walls or mobiles with that shape on it,” says Robert of the gently curved geometrics of the Manfred Deco tiles on their kitchen backsplash, by Angela Adams for Ann Sacks. $34.92/square foot at Ann Sacks, 402 NW Ninth Ave.

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