Why we Love Modernism

Why do we love mid-century modern style?

It is often hard to put the answer into words.

Recently, however, my wife and I had a conversation with a Clare Barry from Domain about our house and garden and it provided a good opportunity to get some ideas on paper.  The conversation led to a snippet as part of this article Modern to the Max and I thought it worth sharing the ideas that grew there.

(via realestate.com.au)

Undoubtedly mid-century style and design is popular at the moment.  Mad Men played a huge part in re-introducing the styles of the 1950s and 60s to a wider audience with its jaw-dropping interiors and lifestyles where every moment had to be spent clinking ice cubes in a stiff drink.  What’s not to like?!

(via realestate.com.au)

What we really love is the excitement and promise of the time.  After the depression and war years materials and products were becoming available again and investment was being made in new technologies such as laminate and window walls.

(via realestate.com.au)

Young architects were experimenting with their designs and homes were quickly becoming a reflection of the owners personalities and lifestyles.  One of the greatest expressions of this was through the use of colour and art in the home.

Rose Seidler House (via modernlove20.tumblr.com)

Houses were also designed to fit the block they were on and embraced existing trees, northerly aspect and changes in level.  Living room windows were designed to open out onto garden spaces and away from boundaries and neighbours.  When faced with smaller properties and closer neighbours today, these aspects of privacy are priceless.

Robin Boyd Walsh Street House (Photo: Darren Bradley)

The modernist landscape is purely an extension of the architecture and should be seen as part of the overall design rather than an afterthought.  In this way the garden complements and reflects the architectural elements of the home.  Mid-century architecture has a strong emphasis on connection to the outside with large window walls providing garden views wherever you are in the house.  Natural materials such as timber and stone flow throughout both the modernist house and garden and continue this link.

Natural materials in the Australian modernist landscape (via realestate.com.au)

So how can you make the most of your modernist landscape?

  • Complement the materials of the architecture and reflect them in the garden.  This includes the use of timber, stone or masonry.
  • Organic shapes in the garden help to soften the lines of the architecture rather than compete with them.
  • For the perfect Australian Modernist garden, use native plants rather than architecturally dominating species.  This reflects the increasing appreciation for Australian plants throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
  • Try to recycle and reuse products where possible.
  • Make sure you create practical and livable garden spaces that suit your needs and today’s lifestyle.