Quality is not furniture you pick out in a flat cardboard box from the cold warehouse beneath a Swedish showroom. Quality is not struggling to understand how the bits and pieces in this box can be assembled to resemble anything with a sense of craftsmanship. Quality is not a fear of disassembling that same piece of furniture when you’re moving to a new apartment because you know if you do the particle board anchoring the screws could crumble into a powder, leaving you with a rickety, broken waste of money.
No, quality is something tangible and apparent, something that becomes even more recognizable with age. Quality does not simply refer to the length of time a piece will continue to function as effective furniture, but also how long the design continues to intrigue and attract new generations. Just as a Van Gogh is still beautiful over a century after its creation quality furniture is still attractive, stylish, and unique years after its creation.
There are no catchphrases here, no slogans. There is only a time period (mid-century) and a style (modern). There is a reason current popular culture still romances the mid-century. There is a reason for Mad Men, American Graffiti, Grease. The mid-century represents the bleeding edge of modernity, with sharp lines, bold looks and a factory mentality that demanded these products could survive the ever-present threat of the A-bomb. You see, the 40’s were, of course, decidedly old-fashioned and by the late 60’s we were so burnt out by the jet fuel of the rocket age that we retreated back to nature. This leaves us with the few gleaming years in the mid-century where we believed anything was possible and weren't afraid to prove it.
So, the furniture of the mid-century survives, because of its quality. While Webster defines Quality as “a degree of excellence” he also states that Quality may refer to a “peculiar and essential character.” The mid-century had both quality and a quality: the lifestyle, the attitudes, and the products.
Here’s to the quality of quality. It’s something you can’t buy in a cardboard box.