A new book from Phaidon charts the rise—and permanence—of mid-century modern architecture. The cult of midcentury architecture has been going on for so long, and has become so pervasive, that its aesthetic is indistinguishable from contemporary design. White walls? Floor-to-ceiling glass windows? Spare interiors with judicious flourishes of wood and marble? Not exactly antiquated stylistic concepts.
And yet! Actual midcentury modern houses—ones built in the 1950s and 1960s—are somehow immediately identifiable. Like supreme court justice Potter Stewart’s definition of hardcore pornography (“I know it when I see it”), midcentury homes are self-explanatory. “It’s quite a broad church,” says Dominic Bradbury, who’s written the book Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses (Phaidon, $150), due out on Oct. 16. “The definition allows for quite a broad expression in different parts of the world.”