Preview: 20th Century Design Marketplace

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From the September 27, 2012 edition

Old modern is the new modern. If that seems oxymoronic, it’s because it is.

“It’s complicated because of the nature of modernism. The whole spirit of modernity was to be new. Why would a modernist of today yearn for the modernism of yore?” asked Fritz Harding, an interior designer and a former CCAD history of design professor.

The culture that shaped the time period, according to Harding, generates a lot of the allure behind mid-century modern’s contemporary renaissance.

“There was such positivity post World War Two,” he said, “a kind of optimism that hadn’t been complicated by things that we see now — mass production, mass marketed goods. It was a fresh outlook of using new materials in innovative ways — molded plywood, fiberglass. There was still a lot of craft in modernism in how they put it all together.”

This weekend the Columbus Museum of Art is converting its 6,000-square-foot special exhibition space on the second floor into a market of mid-century design’s best décor, art and furniture.

Called the 20th Century Design Marketplace, the shopping event is a revamped version of the museum’s annual Art, Design & Antiques Market.

“What we discovered was that really traditional antique dealers’ things weren’t selling well,” said Pam Edwards, the CMA’s director of visitor services. “People were more interested in items for the 20th century, items that were more contemporary, family-friendly, user-friendly, clean and simple.”

Thus, the museum asked this year’s 18 merchants to focus on antique products that represent art deco, art nouveau, mid-century modern and pop art and design movements. Prices range from $10 to $5,000, Edwards said, and $10 buys visitors a three-day shopping pass.

Special events decorate the weekend’s agenda, such as a “Mad Men” costume party on Friday; and a Herman Miller pop-up shop and exhibit.