Luxury Outlook 2022
An ambitious exploration into high-end residential markets across the globe.
From the October 2017 edition of Art & Home, Iyna Bort Caruso shows us that mid-century modern architecture isn’t just having its moment. It’s having an extended renaissance.
“It’s as if the mechanism that refreshes cultural trends every few years has developed a glitch,” wrote The New York Times.
The modernist style began in the late 1930s and took hold after World War II as new materials and building techniques became available that allowed architects to break with the past. Decades on, mid-century modern continues to feel fresh. And not just because TV’s “Mad Men” glamorized the style. It’s because the clean lines, open floor plans and expansive windows that characterize the style emphasize the “modern” rather than the “mid-century.”
Carib Daniel Martin, an architect and self-described “modernist at heart,” renovated the mid-century modern house in the Washington, DC, suburb of Kensington, Maryland, that serves as both his home and office.
He says he’s attracted to the simplicity, the airiness and the way mid-century modern homes “nicely straddle two worlds. They have a modernist feel but are still connected to the more traditional idea of what a home is, which is why people feel comfortable in them.”
Martin and his architect-wife, Gabriela Leniz, have worked on many renovation and expansion projects of mid-century modern homes. He says clients tend to be evenly split between those attracted by style alone and those who appreciate its historical context.
On the other side of the country, influential mid-century modern architects and builders left legacies in California, particularly in Palm Springs and the San Francisco Bay Area. Michael Dreyfus of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty in Palo Alto, California, says, “We are fortunate to have an inventory of homes built in the 1950s by developer Joseph Eichler, the pioneer who brought mid-century modern to the masses.” Buyers like the efficiency. “The homes were able to deliver so much in less space. You can get three and four bedrooms in a very small footprint,” he says.
More recently, Dreyfus has noticed the trend of mid-century modern elements being incorporated into new construction. “There’s something about the style that’s captured people’s imaginations today,” Dreyfus says. “Younger buyers in Silicon Valley are more design-oriented, and mid-century modern really plays into the social fabric.”
The love affair with mid-century modern is inescapable. Architectural walking tours sell out, museum exhibits trumpet its culture-shaping impact and events like Modernism Week, an 11-day festival in Palm Springs, routinely draws tens of thousands of devotees to the land of William Krisel, Richard Neutra and Donald Wexler. “Mad Men” may have inspired an obsession, but the resurgence of midcentury modern continues on, powered of its own accord.
This article was provided by Iyna Bort Caruso exclusively for Sotheby’s International Realty®