Midcentury Modern

Mid century modern

Mid century modern is more than just a home designed by Richard Neutra or any of the other great modernist architects. The phrase describes a design aesthetic rooted in simplicity that spans a style of architecture, interior design, decor, furniture, and even graphic design.

Walter Gropius is often credited for giving birth to the mid century modern movement. In 1919 Weimar, Germany, he opened Bauhaus, a German art school. His goal was, “to create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions which raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist.”

Students learned the principles of architecture, sculpture, and painting with crafts and engineering. According to metmuseum.org the preliminary courses were taught by visual artists like Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky, and Josef Albers and included the study of materials, color theory, and formal relationships.

From there students moved on to specialized studies in metalworking, cabinetmaking, weaving, pottery, typography, and wall painting.

What developed was a school that “churned out so many pioneering architects and designers that it fleshed out an entire artistic movement.”

Mid century modern in Los Angeles


The City of Los Angeles is applauded for its collection of mid century modern architecture. Here are the architects and their most recognized work includes:

Gregory Ain
Dunsmuir Flats, Los Angeles, CA
Park Planned Homes, Altadena, CA
Mar Vista Housing, Mar Vista, CA
Avenel Homes (cooperative), Silver Lake, CA
Ain & Garrott Office, Silver Lake, CA

Charles and Ray Eames
The Eames House, Case Study House No. 8, Pacific Palisades, CA

Paul Williams
Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport
Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills, CA
Los Angeles County Courthouse
Hollywood YMCA

Craig Ellwood
Art Center College of Design (Hillside Campus), Pasadena, California
Case Study House #16, Salzman House, Bel Air, California
Case Study House #17, Hoffman House, Beverly Hills, California
Case Study House #18, West House, Pacific Palisades, California
Smith House, Los Angeles, California

A. Quincy Jones
Nordlinger House, Bel Air, Los Angeles, California
The Barn (Los Angeles) Los Angeles, California
Campbell Hall School, North Hollywood, California

John Lautner
Lautner Residence, Silver Lake, CA
Foster Carling Residence, Hollywood Hills, CA
The Chemosphere, Hollywood Hills, CA
Reiner Residence aka.,”Silvertop”, Silver Lake, CA
Jules Salkin Residence, Echo Park, CA

Richard Neutra
Jardinette Apartments, Hollywood, California
Lovell House, Los Angeles, California
Neutra VDL Studio and Residences (also known as Van der Leeuw House or VDL Research House), Los Angeles, California
Sten and Frenke House (Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #647), 1934, 126 Mabery Road, Santa Monica
Strathmore Apartments, Westwood, Los Angeles, California
Case Study Houses #6, #13, #20A, #21A
Schaarman House, Hollywood Hills, California
Clark House, Pasadena, California
Kuhns House, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
Elkay Apartments, Westwood, California

Rudolph Schindler
Schindler House, West Hollywood, California
How House for James Eads How, Silverlake, California
Manola Court apartment building for Herman Sachs, Silver Lake, California
Samuel Freeman House (two guest apartments and furniture), Hollywood Heights, Los Angeles, California
Bethlehem Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California

Frank Lloyd Wright
Ennis House, Los Angeles, 1923
Hollyhock House (Aline Barnsdall Residence), Los Angeles, 1919–1921
La Miniatura, Pasadena, California
Storer House, Hollywood Hills, CA
Freeman House, Hollywood Hills, CA

Lloyd Wright
John Sowden House, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California
Samuel-Novarro House, Hollywood, California
Millard House (studio), Pasadena, California

Pierre Koenig
Case Study House #21, Bailey House, Los Angeles, California
Case Study House #22, Stahl House, Los Angeles, California

Raphael Soriano
The Lipetz House, Silver Lake, California
Ross House, Echo Park, California
The Polito House, Hollywood Hills, California
Meyer House, Silver Lake, California

Thornton Abell
Case Study House #7, San Gabriel, California

Buff, Straub & Hensman
Case Study House #20, Bass House, Altadena, California

Joseph Eichler
Eichler Homes, Foster Residence, Granada Hills, CA

Industrial Design

As residences and commercial buildings in Los Angeles emerged with clean lines, open spaces, and an indoor-outdoor flow, Scandinavian design became en vogue.

The Scandinavian design movement centers around simplicity, minimalism and functionality. And everything from glassware, lighting, and furniture took on a whole new look. Today the reproduction of these interior pieces still exist. IKEA is by far the most recognized name to bring beautiful and functional everyday objects to the masses. Marimekko is a Finnish home furnishings, textiles, and fashion company based in Helsinki with a flagship store in Beverly Hills, CA. Modernica continues to produce the Case Study Fiberglass Chairs that was originally designed in 1948 as an entry in The Museum of Modern Art’s International Design Competition. George Nelson’s bubble lamps are still going strong. Heath Ceramics is forever a favorite tableware choice. And classic Danish modern furniture is available at several new and vintage stores throughout LA.

Graphic Design

Graphic design became more streamlined. Sans serif fonts, more white space, and pops of vivid color became a lasting trend. While Josef Albers, Lucienne Day, Paul Rand, and Saul Bass are all recognizable names in the field of modern graphic design, Alvin Lustig is the most famous in Los Angeles. Lustig studied design at Los Angeles City College, Art Center. He worked with architect Frank Lloyd Wright at his Taliesin studio and with French painter Jean Charlot. He’s admired for the book covers he designed while working for New Directions in LA. It’s also widely believed he designed the William H. Thomas Residence in Silver Lake.

More Architects & Designers

• Emil Milan

• William Morgan

• Børge Mogensen

• George Nelson

• Oscar Niemeyer

• Svend Nielsen

• Isamu Noguchi

• Verner Panton

• Tommi Parzinger

• Adrian Pearsall

• Walter Pierce

• Warren Platner

• Ira Rakatansky

• Jens Risom

• Paul Rudolph

Eero Saarinen

• Richard Schultz

• Paul Schweikher

• Harry Seidler

• Avriel Shull

• Mel Smilow

• Maurice K. Smith

• Alison and Peter Smithson

• Russell Spanner

• Edward Durell Stone

• Ole Wanscher

• Hans Wegner

• David Weidman

• Russel Wright

• Eva Zeisel

Donald G. Park

• Alfons Bach

• Milo Baughman

• Al Beadle

• Robin Boyd

• Marcel Breuer

• Robert C. Broward

• Victor Christ-Janer

• William Curry

• Edward D. Dart

• Arthur Erickson

• O’Neil Ford

• Paul T. Frankl

• Bertrand Goldberg

• Max Gottschalk

• Eileen Gray

• Taylor Hardwick

• Ralph Haver

• Finn Juhl

• Vladimir Kagan

• Louis Kahn

• Poul Kjaerholm

• Kaare Klint

• Florence Knoll

• William Krisel

• Mogens Lassen

• Roger Lee

• Carl Maston

• Cliff May

• Paul McCobb

• John Randal McDonald

Read more about mid century modern in Los Angeles: