Why we have an endless fascination with mid-century modern
A Q&A with Mid Century Swag, Auckland
Part 2 in our Buy once, buy well series - we delve into the world of mid-century design and discuss with local upholsterers and retailers who are passionate about the style and their process for restoring these popular pieces of furniture.
Mid Century Swag is run by Jodi Newnham in Auckland, showcasing furniture, lighting and scultpures predominantly from the 60s through to the 80s. The selection is far from typical, changes rapidly and invites the covetous gaze of the interiors community and a rapidly growing online following.
Pieces are extraordinarily unique, capturing the imagination and inspiring creativity. Expect brands like Milo Baughman, Curtis Jere and PLycraft amongst an every evolving tableau of known and unknown design heroes.
You have quite the eye for special pieces, where has your fascination with period pieces come from?
I have always been drawn to pieces that catch my eye whether that’s because it has an interesting shape, form, or made from beautiful materials with a sense of craftsmanship.
While finding ourselves living in an era of ever increasing, cheaply mass produced products, pushing mass consumerism I was struggling to find pieces that really inspired me, and this lead to my growing interest in 20th century design. This time period was known for its ground breaking design movements such as Art Deco, Bauhaus, Modernism, MCM and Postmodernism . It was all about encompassing and pushing the boundaries between arts and crafts, form, function and innovation – to bring art into everyday life.
Where do you source your pieces from, are you looking offshore to find extra special items?
Primarily I source and ship from the USA, as there was a gap in the New Zealand market for American Mid Century pieces, plus overall it has a wider selection of mid century pieces from Italian, Danish, German designers. Occasionally I source from Italy or Denmark it depends on the piece.
How do you look to textiles to amplify the restoration of a piece?
Textiles are an important part of the restoration process. I used to work in the fashion industry and have training in design, pattern making and garment assembly and these skills have been valuable in translating over to the furniture pieces I restore.
For a successful upholstery restoration you must consider the form and the function of the design you are about to recover. Not all fabrics are created equal, they must be of good quality, be suitable in terms of how the piece is going to be used and of course you want to enhance the character of the piece. For example we had a wonderful client looking for something for their Mid Century, Palm Springs inspired new build. We had an amazing set of three vintage Rougier sculptural chairs with matching ottomans perfect for their project and ripe for restoration, now this design is a real challenge for upholsters so the fabric had to be right! As I’m now really familiar with the beautiful Mokum fabrics, I knew the Alpaca velvet would be perfectly soft and malleable enough to work on this complex form. My upholsterer did an amazing job and my client is beyond thrilled.
I love discovering and working with beautiful textiles and finding the perfect fabrics for our mid-century finds. Giving them a new lease on life, and a new sense of timelessness and luxury!