“Mid-century modern” might sound like a stuffy term used by millennial house flippers or aristocrats as they sip their Dalmore 62 whiskey. But it’s far from! In fact, mid-century modern furniture is known to be rather exciting: a few curves here, a pop of color there, and simple functionality to boot. (Couldn’t we all use a little more “simple functionality” in today’s world?)
In this article, I’ll talk a little more about what mid-century modern furniture entails, give you some tips on transforming your home office from “office” to “super-amazing office,” and introduce you to the very best mid-century modern office chairs to get you started.
Editor’s Choice: Corrigan Studio Gallivat Ergonomic Task Chair
The Corrigan Studio Gallivat Ergonomic Task Chair made Editor’s Choice due to its combination of affordability, ample ergonomic features, supple padding, long supportive back piece, and gorgeous design. Have I said enough?
Most Ergonomic: Corrigan Studio Harkness Ergonomic Executive Chair
Our pick for Most Ergonomic is the Corrigan Studio Harkness Ergonomic Executive Chair. This chair is plush, features a long supportive back piece, has a cozy headrest, and boasts all the other necessary trappings of a truly ergonomic chair. Treat yourself to this chair and be more productive—and comfortable—at work!
Best Accent Piece: AllModern Colby Upholstered Dining Chair
When you opt for the mid-century modern style, you’re opting not only for functionality but also for simple style—and the AllModern Colby Upholstered Dining Chair offers just that. It may not be the most practical office chair for all-day use, but it’s absolutely the perfect accent piece for guests to enjoy!
About the Mid-Century Design Style
Mid-century modern is a design style that seeks to combine simplicity, functionality, and aesthetic. This style is frequently associated with furniture, though MCM is also implemented in other forms of construction and creation. You can find elements of the style present in architecture, kitchen appliances, and even wall art.
MCM took root in Germany following WWI, beginning in an art school named Bauhaus (or “building house”). Bauhaus encouraged crafting things which were both appealing to look at and functional for their intended use.
Following WWII, elements of this style made their way into the United States via Bauhaus immigrants. What we now know as “mid-century modern” was likely conceived sometime in the 1930s and grew in popularity until the mid-1960s. There are several great names associated with the MCM style, among which are George Nelson and Charles & Ray Eames.
There are several unique design components associated with the MCM design style. I won’t go too much into detail here, but MCM is known for:
- combining simplicity with functionality and strong aesthetic appeal.
- its clean, sleek lines and shapes.
- implementing “futuristic” materials such as plastic, glass, and acrylic.
- exploring and experimenting with new ways of using and combining different materials.
- its minimalistic, no-frills approach to design.
- pieces designed with bold colors and shapes (though warmer, more subdued colors were typically preferred in the U.S.).
How to Style Your Office Mid-Century Look
Did 2020 get you hooked on working from home? Then it’s time to make your home office “official.”
If you would like to give the mid-century modern look a go, there are a few factors to consider and tips to implement. Ready?
Take it slow
When entering a new relationship, planning a move across the country, or thinking about a new hair style, what do you do? You take it slow, make calculated decisions, and act with caution. (Or at least you should—acting on impulse in any of these situations would likely result in disaster of some sort.)
You should take this same measured approach to designing your home office. It may be wise to start with only one MCM piece and decide if you like the style; if so, you can slowly build up your collection until you have all the trappings of a full-fledged MCM workspace.
Use natural elements to your advantage
Because mid-century modern has a strong “back to nature” feel, you should figure out how to best unleash the power of any natural elements present in your office. Windows are a great example: If your home office has a window, you could make it a part of the atmosphere by adding light drapes that allow the sunlight through.
Decide on a focal point
The “focal point” of your home office will be whichever piece you want to stand out the most. This part is important, because you don’t want too many pieces that “pop.” Most people recommend choosing your desk as your focal point: it’s likely the largest piece in the room and it’s where you’ll be spending most of your time.
Whatever you decide, your focal point will be the element that determines the rest of the furniture’s colors, textures, and shapes.
Find sleek storage options
Storage space is an important component of any office, though one that’s often overlooked. To keep your storage space in line with the MCM look, opt for filing cabinets, bookshelves, or pencil holders that are sleek or minimalistic in design.
Add décor—but not too much
MCM is known for its dedication to simplicity and function, but a little decoration never hurt anybody. The key is to not over-decorate. Choose maybe three or four décor pieces that will best suit the setup you have going. Consider a couple of wall prints, a pencil holder, and an accent chair, for example.
How to Choose a Mid-Century Office Chair
While your new chair should fit well aesthetically with the rest of your MCM furnishings, the most important thing with any office chair is that it’s comfortable and ergonomic. For this reason, many of the things you would look for in a “normal” office chair are the same ones you should look for in your MCM chair.
There are several types of chairs available to you, so choosing the best one for you can be difficult. The most suitable types for long office hours include task chairs, executive chairs, and general ergonomic chairs.
Ergonomics encompasses many different factors, but it boils down to how the way in which the chair affects your posture, spine, and overall comfort level. There are several ergonomic features to look for in your new office chair:
- Adjustable Height
- Tilt Control
- Lumbar Support
- Adjustable Armrests
- Adequate Seat Dimensions
The more of these features it has, the better!
If possible, opt for a chair that has caster wheels. This will make it easier to move from one place to another; just make sure the wheels are designed for use on the type of flooring you have!
The Best Mid-Century Modern Office Chairs
Now that you have a better idea of what to expect while searching for your new MCM chair, you may benefit from getting a sample of what’s out there. In that vein, here are our top picks!
The Corrigan Studio Gurpreet Task Chair marries subtle curves with an attractive—and comfortable—faux leather upholstery and seat cushion. The seat is housed within a sturdy walnut-colored wooden shell while the rest of the chair is supported with a steel and wood frame, so one can certainly attest to its potential for longevity. Its armrests are crafted of exposed wood and delightfully curved downward for an almost-posh vibe. As far as ergonomics and comfort go, this chair features has swivel capability (as well as double caster wheels), firm foam padding, and can hold up to 300 pounds at a time. Order yours today in one of three lovely colors—beige, black, or gray—and give your home office an understated flair of mid-century modern.
Featuring a similar wooden shell design as our previous pick, the Corrigan Studio Kallum Task Chair boasts a bolder look with folded arms and a chic polyester fabric gracing its seat and back. This polyester material is stain-resistant to give you that extra piece of mind (read: feel free to pour yourself some red wine while you’re having a tough day on the WFH job), while its steel chrome-plated frame is both durable for everyday use and super-attractive. This chair is height-adjustable from 17.3 inches to 22 inches above floor level, it has a swivel function, and its nylon double caster wheels make relocating it a breeze on any flooring type. Throw in its comfy foam filling and two practical color options (gray and blue), and you have a stunning chair you’ll be honored to sit in every day.
Task chairs are great and all, but sometimes you just need to lean back in your brand-new executive chair to regain your confidence (and your sanity). The Corrigan Studio Harkness Ergonomic Executive Chair stands tall and proud, boasting a whole range of ergonomic features:
- Adjust height (19.69 inches to 23.62 inches)
- Adjustable seat angle (with tilt lock)
- Lumbar support
- Padded arms
This chair is also the perfect shape for helping you maintain good posture throughout your work day, crafted with curved contours and a plush headrest. Its seat and backing are cloaked in an inviting (and anti-microbial) leatherette material, supported by a steel frame and filled with polyurethane foam. You can order this beast of a chair in one of four colors—camel, brownish gray, coffee, or cream—to ensure it perfectly melds with the look you’re going for!
The Corrigan Studio Gallivat Ergonomic Task Chair is so plush and stylish, you might mistake it for a living room piece. (Not a bad thing if it sometimes feels like you do live in your office…) From an ergonomic perspective, this task chair has a lot to offer:
- Height adjustability (17 to 20 inches)
- Adjustable back angle
- Center tilt
- Lumbar support
- Height-adjustable padded armrests
Coupled with a delightful sponge filling, the chair’s soft fabric seat and back make it incredibly comfortable for long work hours. You’ll also appreciate its soft caster wheels, which are ideal for a number of flooring materials from carpet to linoleum. It’s not often that style meets ergonomics in such a cohesive manner, so don’t let this opportunity slip by!
Who here is a George Oliver fan? *raises hand* The Worthing Task Chair is just one great example of the type of sophisticated yet quirky furniture items you can expect from this brand. It features a bentwood shell with some marvelous curves on it, a foam-filled polyurethane leather seat and upholstered back, and an iron base with a chrome finish. You’ll also appreciate its height adjustability (18.5 to 23.2 inches), swivel, and caster wheels (compatible with both carpet and hardwood). Order yours today in black or white, and allow its gentle curves and sleek appearance add definition to your office!
The Corrigan Studio Mercier Task Chair is a bit more on the “basic” side compared to some of our other picks, but that’s all part of its charm. The first thing you’ll fall in love with is its sumptuous cushion, filled with high density foam and boasting a twill upholstery design on its low backrest that’s as durable as it is lovely. To complement its gray cushion and upholstery, the chair is designed with an iron chrome-finished frame that houses its five caster wheels. These wheels are compatible with hardwood, carpet, tile, and linoleum, making it a versatile option for your home office. Finally, its swivel and height adjustability (14.57 to 18.1 inches) make it quite ergonomic for its price and simple construction. What are you waiting for?
Okay, this one is technically considered a dining chair…but just look at it. Wouldn’t it make a darling accent piece for your office? The AllModern Colby Upholstered Dining Chair is available in a range of fun yet classy colors: orange, blue, cream, burgundy, and the list goes on. Atop its sleek walnut legs rests the foam-filled polyester seat and upholstered back, adorned with slightly curved armrests for added comfort. The open yet sturdy back will provide you or your guest with ample posture support, while its ingenious aesthetic appeal will make your office a much brighter place.
Now imagine the last chair we looked at, but with a swivel, wheels, and all the other trappings of your standard office chair. That, friend, is the Corrigan Studio Sigrid Home Office Task Chair. It boasts a similar open back design and polyester fabric, in addition to height adjustability (17.7 to 21.2 inches), center tilt (with tilt lock), back angle adjustment, and height-adjustable padded armrests. You’ll also find its tufted stitching quite refreshing, especially when complemented by its steel frame. Best of all is the plush foam-filled seat—you might actually look forward to sitting down for work each morning. Oh, did I mention this one has a whopping 3-year warranty?
The mid-century modern style is all about simplicity and functionality—and perhaps none of the items on our list implement this to the extent the Joss & Main Inessa Task Chair does. You’ll instantly come to appreciate the beauty of the seat’s gentle upward curves, all-around quality stitching, and attractive faux leather upholstering. While this model does not have armrests, it certainly isn’t lacking in ergonomic features: the chair is height-adjustable (16.5 to 19.7 inches), has a swivel and wheels, possesses a center tilt feature (with tilt lock), and is designed with a posture-friendly curve to support your back. You can always rely on its steel frame to support you during long work hours, and its foam filling will keep your tush comfy the entire time. For a no-frills office chair with all the functionality you need, look no further.
Alright, let’s end this article with a bang. And by “bang,” I mean the Corrigan Studio Lidgate Langley Street Task Chair. This one has a lot going on, perfect if you’re looking for a chair that makes a statement—all while keeping you comfortable, productive, and well-postured throughout your work day. The chair is height-adjustable (18 to 21 inches), has a center tilt feature, a swivel function, and a delightful foam filling for extra comfort. Meanwhile, its bi-cast leather seat and upholstering will lend any office a more professional feel and its solid wood back is sure to impress any visitors you have. You can order this chair in either polished obsidian or flat white, depending on your preferences. Who knows? This might just be the mid-century modern office chair of your dreams!
Frequently Asked Questions
When long hours in front of a computer screen are concerned, having an ergonomic chair is paramount to your health and comfort. If you still have questions about finding the best office chair for you (or about this furniture piece in general), we have answers!
What is the best office chair for sitting long hours?
In short, the best office chair for sitting long hours is one that’s ergonomic. This means it should include any number of features that will keep your comfortable and promote a healthy posture while sitting. As mentioned earlier, these include things such as adjustable height and lumbar support. The more ergonomic features a chair has, the better!
What is the average lifespan of an office chair?
This largely depends on how well you take care of it, but the average office chair can last around seven or eight years. To ensure the chair you purchase will last this thing, opt for one that’s made of high-quality materials (for both the frame and the cushion/upholstery).
What is the best affordable office chair?
Because there are so many affordable office chairs on the market today, it can be a hassle to figure out which ones are really the best. And in truth, there’s no definite way to determine this: it depends on your budget, your preferences, and your daily office seating needs. As mentioned, your office chair does need to be ergonomic and comfortable—but even this can look different from one individual to another.
Most of the office chairs on our list are in the $100-$250 price range. On the lower end of the scale, you get a height-adjustable chair with comfortable padding and a stunning design; on the higher end, you’ll get additional ergonomic features such as armrests and center tilt.
From our list, the best lower-end chair is probably the George Oliver Worthing Task Chair and the best higher-end is probably the Corrigan Studio Harkness Ergonomic Executive Chair. Both are affordable, attractive, and possess ergonomic features you’ll love!
What type of chair is best for office work?
The best type of chair for office work really depends on you and your needs. Generally speaking, the three best types of office chairs are:
- Task chairs
- Executive chairs
- General ergonomic chairs
These chair types are designed with long office hours in mind, so they possess a number of ergonomic features to make your work experience that much more comfortable.
We hope this article has provided you with the information you need to make the best office chair purchase for your mid-century modern office theme—and that you’ve learned a little bit about the MCM style in general. Remember that the best office chair for you should be comfortable, ergonomic, and designed according to your personal tastes. Never settle for less, because your neck and back will pay the price.