People are often confused when it comes to the difference between modern and contemporary interiors. As discussed last week, contemporary design is similar to modern in the sense that it’s clean, minimalistic and emphasizes straight lines. Contemporary design reflects the latest and greatest available in interior design and will be based on current and/or futuristic trends happening right now.
Modern design refers to a period of time. The modernism movement began in the late 1800’s. Birthed by the German Bauhaus school of design and Scandinavian design, the style had an emphasis on simplicity and function. The modern period is recognized between the 1920’s and had its time through the 1950’s.
It does not change; it’s a defined style and like many of the design periods of the past it will remain the same forever.
Many of you have probably heard of Mid-Century Modern design. The style is commonly recognized by its clean interiors. Similar to what we see today with the use of organic materials in design, the style uses many natural materials such as wood, leather, teak and linen. Molded plywood and plastics are also popular in modern design. Straight and polished metal is always what jumps out to me the most as being modern.
One of the key beliefs behind the modern design movement was the idea that form follows function. If a furnishing or decorative object does not have an intended purpose, then it can be eliminated.
In modern design, most of the furniture is raised off of the floor allowing for an airy feeling. The walls are typically white. Floors are typically hard and will either be bare or may utilize simple wool rugs that are neutral in color. Color is used in moderation, if at all.
Part of the confusion between modern and contemporary style stems from the fact that right now we are actually seeing a re-emergence of the elements of mid-century modern design through the use of natural materials and reproductions of the frame styles indicative of that time period. Both tend to also favor uncluttered spaces, artistic flair, and gravitate toward reflective surfaces such as exposed metals and glass. There is also an emphasis on horizontal and vertical lines, unadorned windows or simple roller shades.
While there are many visual similarities between the two design styles, one big distinction is that modern style favors strong lines, while contemporary style loves curves.
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Designing spaces you love to live in,