Recently we profiled stunning midcentury modern furniture designer George Nakashima. While his pieces are true art that have influenced designers in the years since, his pieces are unattainable for most modern enthusiasts. We know that IKEA has a wide range of modern-esque designs, but we’re inclined to avoid the big box store and hex key assembly experience. There is a middle ground. We’ve done some hunting and found several brands to feature that have a strong modern design vibe. The sofa is the centerpiece of the living room, so let’s start there.
Of the names on this list, Jonathan Adler breaks the mold by being a true artist. He started as a potter but within five years became a designer and broadened his art to a wide range of pieces for the home. The design ethic is simple: “design all the bits one needs to create a flawlessly chic home.”
It must be working because he has grown from his start in Soho to over 20 stores around the world. Rather than taking a high-brow, aloof tone, the company keeps it light. “We strive to create luxe and livable interiors that are seriously designed, but don’t take themselves too seriously.” They even have fun with the names of their collections: Mid-Century Magic, Socialite Glam, 70s Hedonism, and Chic Chinoiserie.
His sofas are low, long, and lean with a prevalent use of upholstery buttons dotting the furniture.
Customization is available, with the top of the line leather sofas priced at almost $7,500. Definitely much higher than IKEA but more affordable and cushiony than some of George Nakashima’s live-edge work.
AllModern offers a wider range of designs as it works with a wider range of designers. While there continues to be a modern tone, they include Chesterfields, which sounds much more traditional and conventional. Which is why it’s best to browse and see for yourself. The company aims to make modern design accessible and covetable. Rather than simply show some pieces, they also include a “learning resource and stylistic guide for modern connoisseurs.” They’re willing to get rid of the couch on stilts style of legs by having some hug the ground.
Their wide range of designs also plays with modern transparent materials for arm accents. At least one top price sofa was priced similarly to Jonathan Adlers’ $7,500; but it is on sale for under $5,400.
The name behind the brand may be familiar, and a comfort zone for some. AllModern is a member of the Wayfair series of companies.
Familiarity is also a feature of CB2. The name certainly looks modern, but its parent company is Crate & Barrel, hence the C and the B. These, too, are priced in the mid- to high five thousand dollar range. The designs can be more fluid, though. There’s more of an emphasis, or at least access to, sectionals. Why assume every couch has to be a rectangle? Play with the pieces to fit your unique space. Every room isn’t the same. Every house isn’t the same. The owners certainly aren’t. Here’s an opportunity for expression.
abc carpet & home
ABC Carpet & Home lives up to its name by offering a wide range of large carpets and rugs, but their selection of sofas is also broad. They break out of the box with arms, backrests, and cushions that allow themselves to be more pillowy and relaxed from the vertical – something that can be much more inviting for those interested in napping. ABC also breaks out of the price box with a top end piece for $9,990.
While any company can be environmentally friendly and socially conscious they set the bar high for themselves with a goal of “integrating the elements of healing, education, sanctuary, theater, art, and interconnectivity to create the experience of a three-dimensional living magazine and interactive museum” and “We aspire to manifest a universal exchange where spirit, sustainability, culture, currency, and creation coexist; a holistic sensory experience to inform and inspire participation.” All that and a comfy nap, too.
It’s probably not a surprise that modern designers are doing more than designing places to sit. A thread of exploration, sharing, and access weaves through, as well as cultural awareness and a positive view of the future. Whether any of the designs work for your personal style is up to you, maybe with the help of some customization. The good news is, to get the modern design feel you’re looking for, you probably won’t have to worry about driving to a big box, maneuvering for parking, and then trying to figure out how to unpack and assemble a living room set using only a hex key.