The mid century period, spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, was a time of significant change and innovation in design, art, and culture. One of the defining aspects of this era was the widespread fascination with birds and their representations in various artistic mediums. From illustrations and wallpaper to furniture and fashion, birds were a ubiquitous motif in mid century design. In this article, we will delve into the captivating beauty of mid century birds and uncover their lasting impact on art and design.

The Influence of Ornithology

The mid century fascination with birds was heavily influenced by advancements in ornithology, the scientific study of birds. As scientists began to explore the complexities of avian behavior and life cycles, artists and designers drew inspiration from the rich diversity of bird species. The vivid colors, intricate patterns, and unique characteristics of birds were translated into stunning works of art and design.

Birds in Fashion

The mid century period saw an explosion of bird motifs in fashion. Popular designers of the time, such as Christian Dior and Emilio Pucci, incorporated bird prints and patterns into their designs, creating vibrant and whimsical garments. The famous “Bird Lady” dress by British designer Norman Hartnell, worn by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, epitomized the mid century fascination with avian motifs.

Birds in Illustration

Mid century art was heavily influenced by the popularity of bird imagery. Artists such as Charley Harper and David Klein created vivid and stylized bird illustrations that captured the essence of various bird species. From Harper’s playful and geometric illustrations to Klein’s colorful and graphic posters, bird art became a hallmark of mid century design.

Birds in Mid Century Furniture

Mid century furniture designers drew inspiration from the elegant forms and natural beauty of birds. Designers such as Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner created chairs and tables that evoked the graceful lines and organic shapes of bird wings and feathers. The famous “Swan” chair by Arne Jacobsen, with its flowing curves and elegant silhouette, was inspired by the shape of a swan.

Birds in Mid Century Wallpaper

The use of bird motifs in mid century wallpaper was particularly prevalent. The bold and colorful designs of bird wallpaper, often featuring feathers, nests, and branches, added a touch of whimsy and natural beauty to interior spaces. Companies such as Cole and Sons and Sanderson produced a range of bird wallpapers, from delicate and intricate designs to bolder, more vibrant patterns.

The Legacy of Mid Century Birds

The fascination with mid century birds left a lasting impact on art and design. The beauty and elegance of bird imagery inspired subsequent generations of artists, designers, and scientists. Today, bird motifs continue to be a popular and timeless theme in art and design, a testament to the enduring appeal of mid century design.

The Enduring Popularity of Bird Art

Bird art remains a popular and ubiquitous theme in contemporary art and design. Modern artists such as John James Audubon and Andrew Zuckerman continue to draw inspiration from the beauty and diversity of avian species. The enduring popularity of bird art is a testament to the lasting impact of mid century design.

The Future of Bird Design

As we look to the future, bird design will undoubtedly remain a source of inspiration for artists and designers. The natural beauty and elegance of birds will continue to captivate our imaginations and inform our creative output. From fashion and furniture to wallpaper and illustrations, the legacy of mid century birds will continue to inspire us for generations to come.


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