Mid Century Industrial


Mid Century Industrial


The mid-century brought industrial looking furnishings in classrooms, and offices. The availability of materials that had been used to produce war products could be used for mass produced furnishings. Solid wood desks were replaced with metal leg desks and hard plastic desk tops. Classroom chairs were made with curved tubes of metal to form chair legs connecting the chair backs to the chair seats. Even outside the classroom and office, chairs began to be produced from materials other than wood, including sheet metal and fiberglass. The swivel foot was found on each metal chair leg bottom. Metal made storage, including modular shelving units and filing cabinets, could be quickly and cheaply produced.


After World War II, America went into a sustained economic boom that would last until the 1970s. Offices were being built across the country, and they needed economical, sturdy equipment. Swivel-based, adjustable chairs met the needs of the American post-war office. Industrial furniture was designed to be strong, easy to mass-manufacture, and made out of materials easy to shape or stamp, such as metal, or from wood that was simple to craft with a machine.

Once the 1970s arrived, the market for industrial furniture changed. The steel office chair started to be replaced with plastic, fabric, and leather chairs. Draftsmen tables on engineering floors were being replaced with desktop computers and cubicles. As fire systems improved manufacturing with wood and wood-like products began to catch on, there seemed less of a need for furniture that wouldn’t burn. Desks of office executives, made of wood and glass, were more desired. As a result, the desk, chairs, drawers, and other industrial furniture that sold in the millions was given to college students, sold to smaller business, or melted down to be recycled. The companies that designed and manufactured this furniture moved onto other industries



Vintage industrial furniture is now in demand. Since there hasn’t been much production of industrial style furnishings within the last 40 years, the demand for the distinct style has led to renewed manufacturing of products designed with an industrial look. This would be especially useful for retail businesses that would need multiple units to furnish their storefronts or restaurants. Rather than being viewed just as tools, the practicality and aesthetic simplicity of this furniture has created true value.


mid century industrial


Oak roll top desk

During the beginning of the 20th century, the roll top desk, which is a combination of the older style pedestal desk and cylinder desk, was easily mass-produced. The simple wooden slats could be manufactured very quickly in a uniform way. The roll top desk was the mainstay of the small or medium-sized office at the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century. The hand hammered look of the hardware is distinctive of the English revival styles such as the Craftsman and English country house styles. Furnish your home office or even a living room with the desk.


Heywood Wakefield kids’ chairs/ wood chairs

These “Hey Woodite” chairs were at the height of popularity in classroom of the 1950s and 1960s. In a very mid-century modern style, the plastic seat and back of the chairs could be produced in a wide variety of colors. Throughout the Heywood Wakefield Company’s History, they have evolved the look of their products to match with the styles of the times. These chairs are perfect size for children who want a smaller chair for sitting at the kids table, playing outside, or as an extra furnishing in the bedroom. Alternatively, use these chair yourself as a wall hanging or step stool.


 'gym' flush mounts

Nothing says old high school gymnasium like industrial style lighting. But this cage light doesn’t have to be in an institution, it can also fit in your home. Produced by the Spero Manufacturing Company, besides having a cage to prevent the glass from getting hit by any flying objects, like that basketball you were using in P.E., the glass is also designed to be less likely to crack and be receptive to excessively hot temperatures. Place this light in a garage, kitchen, or even an industrial themed room.

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Drafting table- or big iron drafting table

You can go “back to the drawing board” using this large drafting table. The drawing board was created to use as a multipurpose desk. During the Industrial Revolution, draftsmanship gradually became a specialized trade and drawing tables slowly moved out of the libraries and office. They became more utilitarian, and were built of steel and plastic instead of fine woods and brass. Even though computer aided drafting is a lot more prevalent nowadays, older architects and even some structural designers still rely on a drafting table to produce graphics. Give yourself a big workspace for planning and sketching with, or repurpose this into a blackboard for chalk notes and drawings to go on.


Film winder

Ready to watch the in-class film projected to the screen at the front of the classroom? The film winder was called “an ingenious little apparatus”, and a “great labor saver.” Before the film winder, film would have to be wound by hand, even though film had to be handled carefully and kept clean and free from dust. Since it was small and compact, a film winder could be placed on any table or shelf that may be near the projecting machine. By turning the crank of the winder slowly, a 100-foot film can be properly wound in less than ten seconds. Place this antique in a TV room, near your collection of movies.


Industrial Coat racks

Did you have to walk to school 30 miles uphill both ways in the rain and snow? You’d probably hang your coat, umbrella, or boots on the classroom coatrack. This industrial coat rack answers you need for a place to hang your things in the most functional of ways. Most products with a “vintage industrial” look came out of the offices and factories of World War II. After the war, America went through a sustained economic boom until the 1970s, which required economical, sturdy equipment in offices across the country. Once the 1970’s arrived, the market or industrial furniture began to fade, but the style and functional design of vintage industrial was still appreciated for being both functional or aesthetically pleasing.



Remember these roll down maps from your geography class? These maps are mounted above a chalk or white board. Since classrooms vary, mounting the maps so that they can easily roll down when necessary can be done a variety of ways. Our collection maps salvaged from a school in St. Louis includes geographic and political maps of the United States, Canada, North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, countries of Eastern Asia and the Pacific, and maps of the Holy Land and European political boundaries throughout time. You can hang a map to fill up the wall above a couch or bed, hang a few maps in a row along a wall, or repurpose the map into a roll up window shade.


Chicken wire doors

You may remember this kind of glass from the doors of your high school gymnasium. By placing this wiring between two panes of glass, the glass is secure and adds extra strength, so it’s less likely to break and cause shattered glass to fall on the floor. These doors were salvaged from a school in Ohio, where the doors were on supply closets in each classroom. These doors would do a good job of letting light pass between two rooms if placed in a threshold that separates the rooms. You can spot some of these doors in the Quarters, a private dining room, at the 4Bells restaurant.