Foreword to Mid-Century Modern on a Shoestring (awaiting publication)
Here is a passport photo of me, aged 6, in 1974! Yes, I am proud to admit it: I was a child of the mid-century, if being born at the end of the 60s and growing up in the 70s-early 80s counts. Is that why I feel comforted rather than affronted by an avocado bathroom suite? Why I can appreciate the bold, stylized, jolly flowers of mid-century designs as opposed to 80s toned down (but oh so fogeyish) chintzy florals and bland 90s beiges?
Somehow the 90s and ‘Noughties’ became rather cold and predictable eras in interior design and lacked individual expression. Clean-cut and impressive often, yes; an improvement on late 80s faded florals, maybe. But homely? Welcoming? Warm? Not so much. And that is one of the things I love most about mid-century modern: less ornate and heavy than the styles which preceded it, and yet with its rich teaks and honeyed woods, warmer than the Scandi and minimalistic latter-day trends, it finds an ideal middle ground somewhere between stylishness and homeliness; utility and beauty; quirkiness and practicality.
My own style aims to be a harmonious juxtaposition of mid-century and mid-century modern, with current-day elements comfortably mingled in; an eclectic mix of both vintage and modern furniture and effects from the era, with a bit of carefully curated kitsch for character. Including thoughtfully considered contemporary pieces is not just a practical necessity: it ensures an updated look which is at ease in its 21st century setting. But contemporary is empty without personal elements from the past which have marked our journey in life, from which we can draw strength and comfort in adversity, and I talk about this in my discourse-like chapter at the end of this book, Nostalgia and The Memory of Walls.
My passion for this theme also prompted me to publish, simultaneously, my first collection of poems, The Memory of Walls, which explores the powerful forces at play. It, too, touches on the importance of including in the interior, little knick-knacks and mementoes collected along the way, which embed these memories and embody the essence of people and places, adding meaning to the journey onward and to life itself.
As for serving hatches through to the dining room, why wouldn’t anyone want one? Teak wood on interior walls? Why ever not? Potted cheese-plants? Naturally! And I can’t be alone in loving these things and wanting to be surrounded by them: mid-century modern has really taken off at the turn of this now 21st century, and as it lends itself to being timelessly reinvented, it looks as though it could be around for a good while yet. Could it be that the nostalgia for a less complicated yet more colourful way of life has created this craving? If so, it must be contagious, as its charms have seduced more than just the mid-centurians amongst us. As I add the final touches to Mid-Century Modern on a Shoestring I find to my astonishment that I have reached my own literal ‘half-century’: so what better time than now for me to write this book?
[Extract from Mid-Century Modern on a Shoestring]