Mid-Century Modified 1962–1970

Aerodynamic silhouettes. Scandinavian-inspired lines. Bright colors. These details made 1950s lighting a design phenomenon – but their novelty began to wear off as America entered the 1960s. Manufacturers tried to keep their customers interested by “modifying” the now-familiar fixtures with new (and more emotional) colors, materials, and nostalgic or ersatz themes. This shift began in the early 1960s and continued through the end of the decade – a late and un-named transitional phase of the MCM trend we will call Mid-Century “Modified.”

This 1962 selection from Progress shows a snapshot of the divergent directions Mid-Century Modern would go in the next few years. Classics like the three Scandinavian pendants in the center are flanked by Asian porcelain experiments, more decorative glass treatments, and a new style in ivory and gold that would soon sweep the market: Florentine. (Rejuvenation archives)

In this “Pendant Panorama” from Moe Light in 1963, a happy homemaker dances with joy over another mix of Danish-style MCM classics and newer modifications: crackle and amber-tinted glass, filigree porcelain, plastic honeycomb overlays, Venetian glass blown into a wire frame, and the pseudo-Old World style in the upper right. (Rejuvenation archives)

By 1967, J.C. Virden had replaced most of their Swedish glass in favor of deeply colorful exercises in semi-transparent optic effects. Many of these lights featured their swag chains that allowed homeowners to mount them anywhere in a (pop-corn-ceilinged) room. (Rejuvenation archives)

Ahhh… who doesn’t love Stromboli? Italian influences were strong in late-1960s lighting like this spread from Sea Gull in 1967. (Rejuvenation archives)

Alas, poor Louis Comfort Tiffany… lighting manufacturers (like Sea Gull here in 1967) took creative license with his designs, reinterpreting the glassmaker’s art to arguably less-elegant effect. (Rejuvenation archives)

This 1967 catalog of Emerson Imperialites offers a typical range of “evolved” modern Asian and Scandinavian pendants, along with cultural lessons and entertaining advice. (Rejuvenation archives)

Emerson also suggested that one need not be a world traveler to appreciate its designs. The company showed that its lights were equally at home among cozier, countrified decor.  (Rejuvenation archives)

Each year, House & Garden magazine released an official palette of colors that manufacturers would then produce their products. In this 1967 catalog, J.C. Virden got its groovy on with this eye-catching selection.  (Rejuvenation archives)

Just to prove that the Mid-Century Modern style wasn’t entirely forgotten at the end of the decade, these pendants from Progress in 1969 include Scandinavian favorites alongside other classic designs that had received color- and optic-modifying makeovers. (Rejuvenation archives)

Mediterranean – much like Colonial Revival – is a style that never seems to fall out of favor… it just gets continually updated. By 1971, Moe Light had relegated the timeless Mid-Century Modern mainstay – the white spherical globe – to an almost invisible supporting role above. The colorful glass here hints at the new trend taking its place: Mod. (Rejuvenation archives)