Here’s how to spread your MCM habit to the little ones, one stylish piece at a time. By Gillian Drummond
The principle behind mid-century modernism – that less is more – would seem to go against everything that kids stand for. Try the less is more line on the parent of a teenager, or a toddler, or a LEGO lover, and you’re liable to be laughed at.
But then again, maybe not. When you really think about it, the looks we associate with the MCM style – sleek, simple, functional, bright – could be the perfect antidote to the stresses and messes of life with children.
Heather Wuelpern describes her Tucson home as “rustic, hacienda-style, old Mexico.” So when it came to furnishing her two daughters’ bedrooms and playroom, Heather deliberately went the mid-mod route. “It was to have some balance. I felt it should be more bright and colorful and crisp and clean,” she says.
Nova still sleeps in their bedroom, in a crib by Nursery Works, a Los Angeles-based company that has given a modern twist to the traditional baby crib. Nova’s, in WHAT WOOD and white, is used (they bought it at Little Bird Nesting Company in Tucson) but in great condition. A changing table is integrated into the crib. Nova’s other furniture includes a black Harry Bertoia chair (bought on Craigslist) and a leather pillow from MAST in Tucson. A Mexican blanket, bought from a street vendor in California, a rug bought at a flea market, a desert mobile by Mimo Project, a woven IKEA basket, and a few bright plants finish off Nova’s corner of the bedroom.
Eric Lin, designer with Nursery Works in Los Angeles, says MCM for kids is growing. “In the past few years, as parents have started to recognize that the design of the nursery can complement the design aesthetic of the rest of the home, we’ve started to see an increase in the availability of more modern and mid-century modern cribs on the market.” Parents like Casia and Eric are recognizing that “the nursery doesn’t have to be defined by the traditional ‘baby’ aesthetic”, says Eric Lin.
Buyers of the Vetro include Robert Downey Jr, father to two-year-old Exton, and Beyonce and Jay-Z, parents of Blue. Its celebrity appeal comes with a suitably high price: $4500.
Over at Knoll, purveyors of modern furniture since the 1930’s and a company that boasts Harry Bertoia (see our interview with his daughter in this issue), Eero Saarinen and Jens Risom among its designers, mini versions of some of its iconic pieces are available for kids. The Risom child’s side chair, priced at $262 and pictured top, is a scaled-down version of one of the first ever pieces designed for and manufactured by Knoll.
“Anything super nice we had is not nice anymore,” says mother of two Amanda Domergue, a.k.a. blogger MODG. When she came to decorate a nursery for her baby, she mixed up finds from IKEA, Overstock, Craigslist, Etsy, Walmart, CB2 and West Elm. The changing table is a $30 find on Craiglist (plus a case of beer to persuade her husband to sand and re-stain it), with a changing pad holder on top.
“I wasn’t necessarily going for MCM,” says Amanda. “I really prefer to mix styles. I like a little MCM, a little rustic, a little glam, and mix it all up.”
Parents like Casia Fletcher believe there is a market for something in between the high-end mod kids gear and the thrift bargains, though. “There is a market and a need for it. Many of us would prefer clean simple well built wood pieces over the plastic, fake wood stuff.”
* For mid-century modern furniture and accessory finds in Tucson, visit Tucson Modernism Week’s Mid-Century Furniture Marketplace, 2903 E. Broadway Blvd, October 3-5. More details at tucsonmod.com
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