Modern Vs Contemporary How Are These Interior Design Styles

November 28, 2017 5:09 am by admin
Contemporary vs modern style whats the difference
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Modern Vs Contemporary How Are These Interior Design Styles

Modern vs Contemporary Style Two Distinct Styles of Design Rooted in the 20th Century

The modern style eventually morphed into mid-century modern (1950s and 60’s) and postmodernism (1970s and 80’s). While mid-century modern looks a lot like modern design with splashes of bright color added strategically, postmodernism really doesn’t.

Contemporary design interiors like this living room feature straighter, more austere lines, while modern tends to incorporate more curves. Image: Haus Design Studio

Since the contemporary design style is forever adapting to the latest trends, it picks up many elements that may not be found in modern design. This includes things like expansive windows and morphing the natural world into the interior space.

Modern design refers to an era that has passed, while contemporary design is all about the now and the future.

The modern style is basically the design and decor of the modernism movement, which began in the very late 1800s. Birthed by the German Bauhaus schools of design and the Scandinavian design emphasis on simplicity and function, the modern decor style is actually very old. In general terms, modern decor is linked to the beginning through the middle of the 20th century.

Both modern and contemporary design styles are unfussy and lean toward clean lines instead of ornamentation, like this Scandinavian-style modern living room. Image: Garrison Hullinger

A modern design featuring a minimal amount of furnishings and accents. Image: Koffka/Phakos Design

Additionally, both modern and contemporary styles do enjoy geometric elements, but they tend to go about it in different ways. It may be a geometric light fixture in brilliant gold hanging from the ceiling in a modern room. Whereas in a contemporary one, it would be more large-scale sculptural features, such as a series of showstopping exposed beams against a stark white ceiling.

What is referred to as contemporary style became popular in the 1970s, about the same time of postmodernism’s rise in popularity. It was originally a blend of styles before it became recognizable on its own.

You might think that the design terms “modern” and “contemporary” mean the same thing. After all, isn’t all contemporary decor modern? If you were to go by the dictionary’s definition of these two words, that certainly could be true. In design and art, however, modern and contemporary become two distinct styles.

It is definitely more about the form than the function, which is the exact opposite of the practical features found in modern design.

These two decorating styles share some common characteristics, but there are differences.

Time is the biggest factor in distinguishing them, though. Where modern design is firmly rooted in the early to mid-1900s, contemporary design involves the trends of the here and now.

Postmodernism is bold, breaks all rules of tradition, and has a certain whimsy and irony about it.

Wood is featured on all surfaces to maintain the flow of this open-space modern living area. Image: Best Builders

Both design styles have three general elements in common, which make them good design styles to mix and match into your own signature look. The three shared elements are:

Here are the most popular elements and looks of modern vs. contemporary design.

Browns, golds, turquoise and earthier tones are popular modern colors. Image: Nest Modern

Black, white and bold, saturated colors are very contemporary. Image: Atmosphere Interior Design

Both styles tend to favor simple, uncluttered spaces with smooth, clean lines and artistic flair. This imparts a comfortable and calming feeling in a room that is very inviting.

The most popular modern design era is the mid-century modern era of the 1950s and 1960s. But Art Deco design of the 1920s or anything from then to the vintage look of the 1970s can also be considered modern.

And yet, “contemporary” style is always changing. As each decade passes, the decor trends of the day will be always be considered contemporary. It is not necessarily tied to a specific period of time in the same way that the modern style is. Instead, it is an ever-evolving style that reflects what is happening today.

Contemporary design often sticks to a stricter palate of black, white and grey. If color is added, the color is often the pure, saturated tone like true red, indigo or orange. Modern design colors have an earthier hue and feature shades like rust, turquoise, brown and olive greens. Check out the difference in these two:

Contemporary design borrowed elements from modernism and postmodernism. It also gathered ideas from many other styles such as art deco, deconstructivism, futurism, and more.

There are similar characteristics to be found in both styles as well. This is likely where much of the confusion stems from when trying to distinguish them.

There are quite a few differences between these two design styles. A modern space tends to follow a strict style format while contemporary has many variations in its interiors.

Modern design favors strong lines, while the contemporary style loves curves.

A contemporary open space flows from one area to another fluidly. Image: KF Home Building

Glass, steel, porcelain and concrete are popular contemporary design materials. Image: Studio Ten

Neither style prefers ornate designs or heavy elements. Contemporary spaces can, however, bend this rule frequently as the trends change.

Many people think modern and contemporary design are the same. But there’s a world of difference. They may be synonyms when describing many things, but in design, modern vs. contemporary are quite different.

Wood elements and nature-inspired decor play an important part in modern design. Image: Square Root Architecture

Now that you know a little more about modern vs. contemporary design, which style do you prefer?

Contemporary minimal design. Image: John Maniscalco Architecture

Modern in its true form is rarely viewed as stark or cold, while some contemporary interiors, including those that follow minimalist trends, celebrate a bold starkness.Modern pieces of decor tend to have a function, whereas contemporary pieces may concentrate more on the form itself.

The color palette of modern design leans toward naturals or neutrals that have a warm, inviting feel. Contemporary often enjoys stark contrast with plenty of blacks and whites, though it has no problems swinging from one extreme to the other on the color scale.

In both styles, sofas, chairs, and ottomans have exposed legs. They each tend to gravitate toward reflective surfaces such as exposed metals and glass. You will also find plenty of exposed wood in both styles, from architectural beams to raw wood end tables with metal bases.

Contemporary design features state-of-the-art materials, glass and metals

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