Tips & trends

Two Faces of American vintage design: Hamptons vs. mid-century modern

From the sophisticated world of the Hamptons homes (a perfect blend of comfort and luxury), to the unmistakable mid-century modern style shaped by legendary designers like George Nelson: let's explore the most iconic American vintage design through two universes that have created timeless trends.

When talking about American vintage design, two different and equally fascinating worlds are unequivocally evoked: on the one side emerges the dream of a typical beach house in the Hamptons, furnished with classic taste, often associated with cult movies like Something's Gotta Give (photo), with its characteristic Shingle-style exteriors. This movement, which originated in New England in the late 19th c., is characterized by large porches, sloping roofs, abundance of windows and asymmetrical structures. On the other side, stands out the beloved mid-century modern style, embodied by buildings like Philip Johnson's Glass House, an iconic 1949 residence that symbolizes avant-garde design and is the crib of significative pieces created by designers such as George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames

The mid-century aesthetic, with its essential, modular, and pleasant organic-shaped furnishings, is so iconic that it defined an era and still remains an important reference point in contemporary interior design. Rediscovering these two different styles, highlights examples of homes and designers that have shaped timeless trends.

The Hamptons area, a series of towns and villages located on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York, is known for its picturesque beaches, luxurious summer residences, and an exclusive and sophisticated atmosphere. In the roaring 20s, the Hamptons became particularly fashionable due to their popularity among New York's elite, who sought refuge from the city and desired an elegant and tranquil vacation spot. The beauty of nature, mild climate, and proximity to New York City contributed to making the Hamptons a highly coveted destination for leisure and relaxation.

Contemporary American interior designer Victoria Hagan, known for her style that combines elegance and functionality, furnished her Montauk home in perfect Hamptons style: sophisticated yet welcoming, with bright interiors and elegant furniture. Generally, in addition to white and beige, Hamptons-style interiors are dominated by shades of blue, cobalt and navy, colors that can be accentuated through accessories or wallpapers decorated with nautical motifs. Alongside marine elements, wicker baskets and rattan accessories are a must, while sisal rugs complete the environment welcoming natural and whitewashed wooden furniture.

However, the Hamptons style evolves from a simple nautical style to become more sophisticated and urban, thanks to furnishings characterized by timeless, classical elegance, and basically an  idea of real comfort. Thus, sectional sofas, decorative cushions and throws, and bedside lamps with fabric shades are all welcome. On the tables in the living and bedroom areas, small vases filled with fresh flowers, lanterns, and scented candles are to be found. The architecture of the Hamptons homes always includes large panoramic windows, essential for ensuring bright interiors, in order to establish a connection with the external environment, the surrounding nature, and the ocean.

The intention to harmoniously integrate indoor and outdoor spaces is also evident in mid-century modern style, as demonstrated by the large windows of the aforementioned Philip Johnson's Glass House, or of Charles and Ray Eames' Eames House, a 1950 project located in Pacific Palisades, California. Clean lines, organic shapes, and innovative use of materials characterize mid-century modern, a term coined to define the style popular in the 40s, '50s, and '60s in the United States and Europe. This period of great experimentation and optimism emphasized innovative functionality in architecture and design. The materials par excellence? The Eames House, in addition to being an architectural masterpiece, is furnished with pieces that exemplify the mid-century aesthetic, among which dark and polished wood, teak, bentwood stand out, followed by metal, glass, vinyl and leather covering lounge armchairs. The furnishings not only reflect the technological innovation of the time, but are also designed to guarantee comfort, practicality and durability, making the house beautiful and easily livable. The favored color palette for mid-century interiors features contrasts between neutral tones (for walls and floors) and bolder hues for details, furnishings and upholstery: green, red, orange, mustard and teal.

From the relaxed elegance of a Hamptons home to the innovative functionality of mid-century modern; whichever scenary you imagine yourself in, American vintage design offers a rich variety of timeless elements that continue to inspire and influence contemporary living.