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Ohtel in Wellington, midcentury modern interiorsIt’s no secret that a judicious sprinkling of vintage fleamarket finds is de rigueur in any self-respecting interior these days, but we’re seeing more and more mid-century modern pieces cropping up in Smith’s collection of boutique hotels (and soon in some of our bloggistas’ boudoirs, thanks to the amazing design show we went to this weekend – see below).

A handful of these designer dens started life in the 1950s and have just revisited the archives to recapture the look (like the Jetsonian Avalon Hotel in Los Angeles and The Standard Downtown LA); some owe their looks to the inherent style of their location (Palm Springs is renowned for its mid-century modern architecture, and the Ace Hotel Palm Springs, originally built in 1965, channels the mood to perfection); and some cherrypick stand-out pieces to add texture and interest to their rooms (such as Ohtel in Wellington, pictured above).

Ace Hotel & Swim Club Palm SpringsUbiquitous Eames chairs aside**, some of our favourite boutique-hotel objets include the Ercol settees and Kai Kristiansen chairs at Moulin Renaudiots; Eero Saarinen Tulip tables at Soho House New York; a first-edition Arne Jacobsen Egg chair at Hotel Particulier Montmartre in Paris; Poul Henningsen ‘Artichoke’ pendant lamp at 60 Thompson in New York; and the amazing Percival Lafer armchairs at Ace Hotel & Swim Club (left).

Midcentury Modern home show LondonSource the retro look
I’m almost loathe to share this information since there will now be even more competition for those rare Danish rosewood sideboards and Hans Wegner chairs; however, last Sunday saw the biannual outing of the Midcentury Modern fair hosted by Modern Shows at Dulwich College – increasingly popular with in-the-know design aficionados and style-seekers. This is the place to get your fix of fine Fifties furniture and Modernist homewares, with a host of ancillary exhibitors offering bolts of vintage fabric, 60s ceramics, and contemporary crafts by young British designers that channel or complement the retro look.

Zoe Murphy and Lubna ChowdharySome highlights of the modern vanguard:

• Margate-based designer Zoe Murphy‘s hand-embellished chests and hand-printed silk cushions;

• whole bolts of graphic-print vintage fabrics from Lucy Bates (perfect for those reupholstery projects);

• unique bedlinen by True Love Always – we particularly loved the re-purposed African batik duvet covers; and

• beautiful handmade tiles by Lubna Chowdhary (but which ones to pick?);

Dyed-in-the-wool mid-century fans and collectors should make a beeline for:

Vintage Retro and metroretro at Midcentury ModernVintage Retro for a massive inventory of furniture, including Ercol, G-Plan, and all the usual suspects;

Twentieth Century Interiors for sofas, chairs and shelving systems;

Circa 20th Century Antiques & Design, who had a ravishing rosewood and mahogany cocktail cabinet on show;

Fandango for ‘sustainable luxury’ (read, gorgeous reupholstered seating and rewired lighting); and

metroretro for reclaimed factory shelving and decorative finishing touches such as antique shoe lasts and industrial-scale bobbins.

The next Midcentury Modern show is on at Dulwich College on Sunday 18 November 2010. For details, visit

** (But if you really do like those Eames chairs, sneak a peek into any of the following hotels to park your behind in one: Perantzada Hotel in Kefalonia; The Prince in Melbourne; Sanderson in London; Verana in Jalisco; Hotel Julien in Antwerp; Locanda Palazzone in Umbria; The Spire in Queenstown; Delano in South Beach… I feel a blog post titled ‘Top 10 hotels with Eames chairs’ coming on…)

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