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Brasserie Maire

1950s Tin Advertising Sign for Belgian Beer Brasserie Maire
Located in Antwerp, BE
1950s Tin advertising sign for Belgian beer: Brasserie Maire - Speciale Luxem - Export Beer. An
Category

Mid-20th Century Belgian Mid-Century Modern Signs

Materials

Tin

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A Close Look at mid-century-modern Furniture

Organically shaped, clean-lined and elegantly simple are three terms that well describe vintage mid-century modern furniture. The style, which emerged primarily in the years following World War II, is characterized by pieces that were conceived and made in an energetic, optimistic spirit by creators who believed that good design was an essential part of good living.

ORIGINS OF MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGN

CHARACTERISTICS OF MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGN

MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGNERS TO KNOW

ICONIC MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGNS

VINTAGE MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE ON 1STDIBS

The mid-century modern era saw leagues of postwar American architects and designers animated by new ideas and new technology. The lean, functionalist International-style architecture of Le Corbusier and Bauhaus eminences Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius had been promoted in the United States during the 1930s by Philip Johnson and others. New building techniques, such as “post-and-beam” construction, allowed the International-style schemes to be realized on a small scale in open-plan houses with long walls of glass.

Materials developed for wartime use became available for domestic goods and were incorporated into mid-century modern furniture designs. Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen, who had experimented extensively with molded plywood, eagerly embraced fiberglass for pieces such as the La Chaise and the Womb chair, respectively. 

Architect, writer and designer George Nelson created with his team shades for the Bubble lamp using a new translucent polymer skin and, as design director at Herman Miller, recruited the Eameses, Alexander Girard and others for projects at the legendary Michigan furniture manufacturer

Harry Bertoia and Isamu Noguchi devised chairs and tables built of wire mesh and wire struts. Materials were repurposed too: The Danish-born designer Jens Risom created a line of chairs using surplus parachute straps for webbed seats and backrests.

The Risom lounge chair was among the first pieces of furniture commissioned and produced by legendary manufacturer Knoll, a chief influencer in the rise of modern design in the United States, thanks to the work of Florence Knoll, the pioneering architect and designer who made the firm a leader in its field. The seating that Knoll created for office spaces — as well as pieces designed by Florence initially for commercial clients — soon became desirable for the home.

As the demand for casual, uncluttered furnishings grew, more mid-century furniture designers caught the spirit.

Classically oriented creators such as Edward Wormley, house designer for Dunbar Inc., offered such pieces as the sinuous Listen to Me chaise; the British expatriate T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings switched gears, creating items such as the tiered, biomorphic Mesa table. There were Young Turks such as Paul McCobb, who designed holistic groups of sleek, blond wood furniture, and Milo Baughman, who espoused a West Coast aesthetic in minimalist teak dining tables and lushly upholstered chairs and sofas with angular steel frames.

As the collection of vintage mid-century modern chairs, dressers, coffee tables and other furniture for the living room, dining room, bedroom and elsewhere on 1stDibs demonstrates, this period saw one of the most delightful and dramatic flowerings of creativity in design history.

Finding the Right signs for You

Vintage and antique signs are popular collector’s items loved not only for the charm and pops of color they add to a space but also for the unique story each one has to tell. An interesting sign can help set the mood for a room and spark dozens of lively conversations.

Before and during the 18th century, many European peasants and colonists in the Americas couldn’t read, so shopkeepers, in an effort to promote their goods and services, hung trade signs with limited amounts of text.

Indeed, symbols and representational physical objects comprised early-day advertising efforts. In lieu of painted words on a wooden board, trade signs made use of handmade three-dimensional symbols to indicate the function of the shop. The iconic red, white and blue pole could be found outside barbershops, while a figural trade sign mounted to an apothecary’s storefront might be a mortar and pestle sculpted from bronze in order to indicate to passers-by that inside there were apothecary cabinets full of remedies for common ailments and a druggist to carefully dispense them.

As literacy rates improved, signs evolved into rectangular, round or square shapes that featured text. Short and sweet, early iterations were characterized by a mere few words, such as “tavern,” “boarding room” or “apothecary.”

During the 19th century, proprietors endeavored to render their signs more appealing. This meant the introduction of more color, font types and other pictorial representations. After the Civil War ended, logos, branding and advertising became increasingly more important, and the design of signage evolved. Trade signs were still in use during the 20th century, and you will likely find hand-painted tin eyeglasses for an optometrist’s office or an oversize bowling pin that likely had a home in the front window of a bowling alley.

Today, collectors and art aficionados alike collect and display antique and vintage signs. Old signs hearken back to a long-gone era, infusing any interior with warmth and nostalgia.

A vintage sign can help anchor a room — think of decorating with signs as you would arranging any kind of wall art. A large-scale sign in particular can prove a distinguishing feature in a living room or dining room, a focal point so prominent that it might lessen the burden of introducing any additional decorative elements to this particular space. Smaller signs work wonders too — pepper sparsely decorated corners with small colorful signs or add a humorous or graphic element to your gallery-style hang with a small text-based sign or two.

On 1stDibs, find metal, wood and glass antique and vintage signs that span a number of styles, including mid-century modern, industrial and folk art.