Emma Jane Palin writes about design and interiors on her award-winning blog. Here she explores the history of Mid-Century Modern and why this particular design movement still influences the way we live now - including the interiors at White City House.

If I could choose anywhere in the world to visit right now, it would be Palm Springs. Visions of ethereal dresses and western boots in the ​Sonoran​ desert are certainly appealing, but ultimately there’s only one thing on my to-list for the Californian city - house-spotting. The origin of Mid-Century style, Palm Springs is a hive of architectural beauty, informing and inspiring design across the world to this day. What started with beautiful buildings slowly grew into the interiors to fill them and the lifestyle to boot.

It’s strange to admit that a place I have never visited has informed my own style in such a prominent way. Late nights watching Mad Men and scrolling through the depths of Pinterest have allowed me to indulge in infiltrating elements of the genre into my life. But how did this design movement actually come about?

Mid-Century design was pioneered in the early 1940s, appearing architecturally on the West Coast of America as a rival to the European Bauhaus movement and earlier Modernist styles. The post-war efforts in suburban areas saw architects focused on creating contemporary designs with practical elements, open floor plans and large windows that created large indoor spaces, and blurred the boundaries between the outdoors and inside. The concept was simple; to create functional yet aspirational furniture that was accessible to the general Joe Bloggs.

'Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least amount of money.' Charles and Ray Eames

Charles and Ray Eames were likely the most prominent of designers, with the Eames Lounge Chair having, to this day, never gone out of production. The easy breezy Californian aesthetic of the designers and their own motto to appeal to the masses has left their designs forever modern. Other notable designers of the era include Herman Miller, Florence Knoll Basset, ​Eero Saarinen,​ Marcel Breuer and George Nelson, whose 1946 Platform Bench can often be found cited as one of the first memorable designs.

The term ​Mid-Century Modern​ was coined later in 1983 when writer and art historian Cara Greenberg released ​Mid-century Modern: Furniture of the 1950's; ​a publication dedicated to the geometric silhouettes and simple forms of the genre. Even at this point, the style was effortlessly filtering into homes across the world, having been immortalised by classic cult films such as ​A Clockwork Orange​ and Diamonds are Forever.​

When it comes to design movements, it’s not often that one can stand the test of time and evolve with a new generation. The clean, simple lines, geometric silhouettes and multi-purpose usage of Mid-Century pieces has ensured that it can work in a variety of spaces, from modern flats to detached period houses. It’s these traits that have been incorporated in White City House, Soho House’s latest club, situated in the old BBC headquarters; a place to relax and revel in the Mid-Century nostalgia with a contemporary twist.


Pale wood panelling, floral 60s prints, brass accents and rich textures fill the building, alluding to the sumptuous daily routine that it once had during the 60s and 70s. While some pieces in the building are freshly designed by the Soho House team, others have been brought in to pay tribute to the original designers such as lamps originally designed by George Nelson himself.

Of course this wouldn’t be a part of the Soho House family if it didn’t have its own eclectic set of additions such as the geometric velvet walls and luxurious fabrics at every turn. The 17-metre swimming pool is surely one of the hottest people-watching spots in town. I’m just thrilled that my vacation to LA is now less than thirty minutes away, and if I really can’t wait, I can bring it to me instead with the Soho Home White City Collection. Shop my picks below and while you’re at it, add this Old Fashioned Cocktail Set to your basket because there’s no point talking the talk without walking the walk, is there?

The Ronnie Chair

A Mid-Century chair is a staple for a retro abode and the Ronnie Chair is handmade in the North of England with a dark ash wood frame and a wool seat.

Allis Pendant

The bubble elements of this pendant are the perfect nod to the slightly more luxe end of Mid-Century style. The combination of glass, brass and the champagne tint is typical of the time.

Pluto Sunburst Wall Clock

While a lot of Mid-Century design is relatively minimal, some objects go all the way with decoration, typically featuring sunburts or geometric shapes. This Pluto wall clock makes a statement piece for a pared back living space.

Hartnell Table Lamp

Orange tones are very reminiscent of the late sixties and early seventies style. This lamp with blown amber glass and a brass and timber base will bring the retro vibes to any room.


Read Emma's work at emmajanepalin.com and follow her @emmajanepalin

White City House

With a rooftop pool, gym, club spaces and the Allis restaurant on the ground floor, our new West London House is a tribute to Mid-Century design.