Mid century modern lighting has been popular since, well, the middle of the century. The emphasis on high quality material and gorgeous shapes is likely to blame.
Likewise, the open floor plans so central to mid century architecture needed excellent lighting, a flood of mid century light design came to the mainstream.
Below, we explore some of the most interesting mid century light available today, along with some classics from the past that are worth checking out.
Ready? Let’s go!
What Makes a Light Mid Century Modern?
As I mentioned above, open floor plans are central to mid century architecture. In other words, living spaces are designed with large, open rooms that could accommodate guests, free movement, etc. These spaces require abundant lighting.
Though natural light did the trick during the day, these spaces needed lots of ambient illumination. As such, many mid century designers began experimenting with shapes, forms, and techniques for filling those open spaces in light, creating a whole class of mid century lighting that would fill interiors for decades to come.
3 Types of Mid Century Modern Lights
Below is some inspiration for the common types of mid century modern lights.
Flush Mount Ceiling Lights
The sputnik style design of this lamp embodies one of the forms you will find all over the mid century modern era. Flush mount means that the light fixture attaches directly to the wall.
Mid Century Modern Pendant Light
The pendant style chandelier is another classic style that is very available today. This classic look uses brass, but you will find these lamps in all sorts of finishes. Unlike flush-mount lighting, pendant lighting hangs from the ceiling.
Mid Century Chandeliers
Mid century chandeliers are likely the the most popular kind of MCM light you will see today. The term chandelier is a bit broad, but it refers to any
hanging light with several light bulbs.
The goal of mid-century modern design is, “Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least amount of money”
Ray & Charles Eames
My Favorite Mid Century Modern Lights
Recently, there has been a huge resurgence of all types of mid century modern furniture, lighting included. Bespoke furniture designers love MCM, and as such you can find excellent reproduction pieces (many available is custom finishes and sizes). Here are my favorites.
The lighting design from Ladies and Gentlemen really makes the whole studio shine. Most is mid century modern inspired but all pieces are very artistic, with gorgeous metal selections and color palettes.
My Pick for MCM Lighting
Crafted with heavy gauge exclusive solid brass parts that have beautiful artisan finishes. This classic “globe” style is a perfect reproduction of the midcentury era.
Pendant style light with exposed bulb and marble finish. I love the simplicity and subtle detail provided by the marble finish.
The Cirque Pendant Light from Louis Poulsen was inspired by a trip to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The horizontal bands of color are an interpretation of the bright colors merging together as carousels, wheels of fortune, and other rides spin quickly, blurring everything together.
This Loft Pendant Light fixture by CB2 is emblematic of the midcentury modern style. Simple materials and clever design come together to create a unified, elegant lighting device.
Suspend a few of these from the ceiling to enjoy a nice, dimmed light anywhere in your home. It would look just as good in a bedroom as it would in the kitchen or bathroom.
The midcentury modern style is all about streamlined forms and geometric shapes. This bronze wall sconce from Lighting on the square has both. It’s a sleek and unique way to light up your home.
The white glass covers are modular, so you can mount them upwards or downwards to accommodate your needs.
Looking for a freestanding lamp that you can place by your bed or next to your couch? No worries! Freestanding lamps are popular among midcentury modern designers. So, there are plenty to choose from.
This Arc Floor Lamp from Shades of Light is a great example. It’s lightweight, so it’s easily movable. And, the hinged structure enables you to adjust it to your liking.