Trend Watch: Mid-century Modern


Mid-century modern design best describes architecture, furniture and graphic design from the middle of the twentieth century (1933-1965). It has been described by HGTV experts as the “largest modernist movement since the Industrial Revolution and post-World War I”. The phrase was coined by author Cara Greenberg in 1983 while writing her book “Metropolitan Home” that featured 1950’s furniture. She made up the phrase and it stuck! The trend started on the west coast and migrated itself across the country, but it remains a very prevalent design element in the west.


What is mid-century modern?

It is typically described as simple, sleek furniture with straight lines that create depth and length with interesting, subtle curvatures and pops of colorful decor. Mid-century modern brings in elements of the outdoors as well as natural light through large windows to create the feeling of a much larger outdoor space. The uses of interior walls that don’t reach the ceiling are also a prominent design element to help create that illusion of a large, unending space. Mid-century modern includes sculptural, biomorphic shapes and the use of industrial materials such as steel, brass, pane glass, fiberglass, resin and concrete.


Key Elements:

  • Flat Planes: geometric lines kept consistent all throughout the office to create a cohesive feel.
  • Large Windows: creating the illusion of a large outdoor environment in an indoor space.
  • Changes in Elevation: small steps going up and down to create a split level; partial walls and cabinets to create depth and space.
  • Integration with Nature: multiple outdoor views and access points, appreciation of healthy living, marrying the indoor and outdoor spaces to create warm environments.
  • Non-traditional Lighting: sleek, small light fixtures and bold, unique chandeliers.
  • 60-30-10 Rule: when it comes to colors; 60% dominant base color, 30% secondary color and 10% accent colors.


Design Team Interview:

  1. Where do you see Mid-century design showing up the most in office spaces?

Matthew Rosenquist: Throughout the last couple of years, the workplace has begun to make a shift into a more relaxed environment. Inspired by residential styles, like mid-century modern décor, furniture layouts, open concepts, clean lines, and subtle organic forms, the workplace trends are leaning towards this more comfortable, stylish, and less “corporate” environment. Furniture manufacturers have picked up on these trends and developed products that suit these types of environments. Teknion – Upstage is a good example of these shifts. Upstage offers open concepts, division of space through furniture or functional storage pieces (not panels), neutral and vibrant finish offerings, and subtle design details like the supporting wood Y-leg, all gearing toward a Mid-Century Modern inspired design.

Jamie Fink: Mid-century design seems to be a contrary approach to millennial-driven design in the workplace. Unlike the bright, sometimes overly youthful look and feel of millennial office spaces, mid-century design hails from an era that is described as modestly classy and elegant. It is showing up in offices that are both looking to modernize their look and feel while also holding on to timeless elements.

  1. What kinds of offices is mid-century modern showing up in more frequently?

Matthew: Most of these trends are being embraced by the younger generation of the work force. This design style, aesthetically pleasing furniture, collaborative break out spaces, comfortable and flexible work environments are all things that are luring the new generation. In turn, previous generations of the workforce are beginning to accept this style of work environment because of its appeal to the younger generations they hire.

Jamie: I believe that mid-century design is embraced both by those who recall it’s prominence from their childhoods and is equally gravitated towards by younger designers who simply admire it’s aesthetic.

  1. What makes mid-century modern design unique?

Matthew: Mid-Century modern is unique in a way that it mixes clean lines with organic form, it is a balance of minimalist and contrast, and has a interesting way of exemplifying the natural world through a modern eye.

Jamie: Uncomplicated lines, a timeless color palette and a look and feel that is easily integrated into most design settings.

  1. What is your favorite type of product from this design era?

Matthew: No favorites come to mind, but I love the craftsmanship and sophistication of the wood furniture from this era.

Jamie: It’s a love or hate feeling when it comes to the Eames Lounge chair and ottoman… I happen to fall in the love category.


If you want to read more about mid-century modern decor and furniture:


Product Highlights: Teknion Zones

PearsonLloyd worked with Teknion to create a line of furniture that “solves complex issues in a simple way.”


The design approach for this collection recognizes people’s emotional connection to furniture and provides a series of chairs, tables, enclosures and accessories that offers a fluid platform for addressing workspace needs. The pieces were designed for mobility so the environment can be adjusted as needed. And the materials used express a softness and richness that humanizes the product and enriches the work experience.

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For PearsonLloyd the future of the office environment is about “flexibility, opportunity and happiness.” Teknion Zones will truly transform an office interior.

To learn more about Teknion Zones, call 262.207.6399 or visit

Ethonomics: Active Design

In 2015, Teknion released a paper called Ethonomics: Designing for the Principles of the Modern Workplace. As a leading international designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative workplace interiors, the company explored how design can impact employee happiness and the question—What does well-being and productivity mean to today’s workforce?

Ethonomics presents the theory that there may be a formula for designing workplace happiness. This formula includes:

  1. Design for Balance – Offer varied experiences across a floorplate
  2. Design for Choice – Account for changing work modes throughout the day
  3. Active Design – Promote movement
  4. Human-Centered Design – Create a rich sensory experience and connections to the outdoors
  5. Design for Collaboration – Support groups as they scale in: size, formality, tech needs, learning styles

As part of that formula, Active Design focuses on promoting individual movement in the office environment. As a greater topic Active Design is being applied by urban planners to build movement into communities through engaging streetscapes, pedestrian-oriented developments and neighborhood parks. So how can we design office environments with that same mentality?

According to the Ethonomics paper, “The human body is built to move. It follows that the human-centered workplace should provide people with the opportunity for physical activity; with a choice among working postures as well as workspaces. Alert, engaged and healthy workers are most often those who are afforded a stimulating and inspiring work environment that encourages movement—to sit, stand and walk around.”

While the paper shares some of the detriments of sitting, simple providing the option to stand is not the solution. As with most things, moderation and balance is a better approach. The paper offers a few suggestions for how employees can add movement into their daily routine in a variety of ways:

  • Pace while talking on the phone, organizing papers or eating lunch.
  • Stand at a sit/stand desk—or take your laptop over to a high countertop.
  • Walk, rather than gathering around a table, for a meeting.
  • Program your phone to remind you to change position every half an hour.
  • Take a break—stand up, stretch and stroll over to the coffee bar.
  • Walk to work or at least to the bus stop or train platform. Where possible, join co-workers on the volleyball court, take a yoga or Zumba class or simply use your lunch hour to walk to a plaza or stroll through a park.

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Schroeder Solutions worked with Skyline Technologies, the Midwest’s premier provider of information technology and digital marketing consulting services, to create not only a “cool” office space, but an office that was collaborative, active and vibrant. The design solution promotes movement by offering a variety of collaborative spaces with opportunities to sit or stand while meeting in private, semi-private and casual settings. Bean bag toss and Pop-A-Shot games in the lounge encourage physical activity and quick breaks throughout the day.

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If you are interested in learning more Ethonomics and integrating Active Design principles into your workspace, contact: 877-676-9346. You can find information referenced in this article by visiting:

In the spring issue we will discuss Human-Centered and Biophilic Design. Stay tuned!

Collaborative Meets Private


Collaborative workspaces foster creativity, increase engagement and encourage a cohesive work environment. They are essential to employee productivity, well-being and can positively impact a company’s bottom line.


With so much emphasis on collaborative areas in the workplace, we seem to have forgotten the significance of private, individual workspaces. It’s important to note that these quiet work areas are just as essential to a work environment as collaborative spaces.


We recently published a book, The Millennial Impact in Southeastern Wisconsin, which discusses Milwaukee Millennials’ views on transit, amenities and the city’s biggest challenges. Our findings also discuss Milwaukee Millennials’ workplace needs and their views of the ideal work environment.


When creating the ideal workspace to help recruit and retain the next generation of talent, space must not be overlooked. Private and collaborative space must be equal.  It’s all about balance. Millennials want choice. They want a workplace that promotes collaboration, but also has quiet areas dedicated to heads down, focused work.


72.5% of Millennials in Southeastern Wisconsin value a workplace that promotes collaboration, yet 65.7% ALSO value the availability of quiet workspaces. Currently, only one in four workers are working in optimal environments. The rest are struggling to work effectively, resulting in a major loss of productivity.


If the ability to focus is not considered in your overall workplace design and space plan, strategies to improve collaboration are ineffective. The right workplace balances focus, collaboration and personalization. There’s a major cost implication if you do nothing, but there is major cost savings if you do it right.