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What is the Difference between Modern and Contemporary Furniture Design?

Optima contemporary fitted wardrobe

Different Time Periods

It can be very difficult to distinguish between modern and contemporary furniture design. This is because they are very similar to the untrained eye.

The main difference between the two is that modern furniture design specifically relates to the architectural style that was popular between the early 1900s and 1950. Whereas contemporary furniture design belongs to the current time period.

Another difference is the architectural lines. Modern furniture has straight lines and contemporary furniture has bold and sweeping curves. Also, modern furnishings are more likely to use warmer materials and colours than their contemporary counterparts.

Strachan contemporary lounge

The Birth of Modern Design

Modern furniture design reflects the modernist movement of the 20th century. These modernists wanted to develop new cultural norms, in a world that had experienced great change since the industrial revolution.

Modernism brought the end to the over the top styles that came before. Heavy textures, carvings and wood tones were replaced with open space and minimalist features.

German Bauhaus School of Design

Modern furniture design rose to prominence in the 1900s. Originating from the German Bauhaus Schools of design, modernism focused on minimal features and maximum function. Late modernism and postmodernism followed, eventually evolving into the contemporary style of the late 70s.

The very definition of contemporary is that it belongs to the present, reflecting the architectural trends that are popular right now. Meaning contemporary furniture designs are always changing. Since its birth in the 70s, contemporary design has continuously evolved. Although to clarify, what was considered contemporary in the 70s is now considered vintage.

What is Contemporary Home and Furniture Style?

Fitted lounge in Imperial Grey and Dove White

Bare and Minimal Furnishings

The contemporary space is calm, collected and mature with neutral and masculine colours preferred. Curved lines in the design are important and the room should not be cluttered, with space itself used as a decoration. Minimal furnishing is essential, meaning all the features in the room are bold and noticeable.

Contemporary favours smooth surfaces and clean lines. Furniture should be simple and clean cut with inviting shapes in natural colour tones. It should emphasise openness, drawing attention to other statement furnishings so that they stand out more vividly. Contemporary fitted furniture in particular is all about seeing the beauty in unadorned style to create bright, airy rooms where less is more.

Toscana understairs home office space

Contemporary Fitted Furniture Rethinks Space

Breaking away from traditional design norms is key to a contemporary space and the same can be said for furniture of this style. A contemporary home will often make good use of areas that would normally be dismissed as ‘unusable’ to create stunning room configurations that are fresh and unexpected. Contemporary furniture conveys a fluidity where nothing is off limits and how you style your space will only be limited by the boundaries of your imagination.

Milano wardrobe sliding doors

Contemporary Style Makes Use of Contrasts

Contemporary style isn’t uniform, it’s far more open to asymmetrical designs and striking contrasts. Our contemporary bedroom furniture is a perfect example and mixes materials and finishes to create a visually arresting look. The use of different textures bridges the gap between the natural and the manmade, helping to highlight the main focal elements of the room.

What is Soft Contemporary Style?

What is soft contemporary style

Soft Contemporary Furniture Has Curves

Soft contemporary is inviting and mature. It moves away from the harsh lines of the modern design era, making way to soft curves, smooth features and ambient interiors. Soft contemporary furniture aims to create inviting spaces, whilst protecting the design from trending influences that will become quickly outdated.

Optima Home Office in Natural Oak

Open Spaces and Warm Colours

Soft contemporary furnishings favour more traditional materials that can help the home better resonate with its natural surroundings. Warm materials like hardwood, are chosen over cold materials like metal and marble, to create a more cosy environment.

Rich wooden hues are preferred for soft contemporary fitted furniture to create an organic feel that reflects the harmony of nature. As with all contemporary designs, furnishings should be clean cut and minimal, to reduce clutter and give an air of spaciousness.

What is Modern Style Furniture?

What is modern style furniture?

Modern furniture design is the opposite of the grandiose styles of the 1800s and early 1900s

Modern furnishings are worlds apart from the grand and over-flourished style that came before the modern movement. They focus on minimising clutter and maximising functionality, often making use of wood and earthy elements.

Modern design takes its notes from the international style of architecture which developed in the 1920s and continued to evolve until the 1970s. Even though the art deco period of the 1920s is considered modern, the mid-century modern designs of the 1950s and 1960s are the most popular styles.

Strachan modern interiors

Modern Furniture Design makes use of Straight Lines

A modern styled interior consists of clean, straight lines in comparison to a contemporary design which makes use of bold, sweeping and curved lines. Crisp, sharp and bare, modern homes utilise space just like contemporary designs, but with lines that bring out a harder definition. This modern fitted bedroom furniture uses vertical lines to draw the eye upward combined with a dark, dijon walnut headboard to direct attention into the room.

Siena Bedroom in American Black Walnut

Monochrome Modernism

Another hallmark of modernist furniture design is its limited palette. You won’t find as many contrasting colours here – the ethos of the modernist style is to let the charm of natural materials do the talking. Furniture of this style, such as the modern fitted wardrobes on our website, will have no ornamentation at all, preferring instead to present a flat, unbroken look throughout the room. Plain tones are used to create a naturalistic feel that’s calming and inviting, with a greater emphasis placed on all elements in the room balancing each other out, rather than creating bold points of interest.

What’s your style? Minimalist modern or perhaps more contemporary chic? Whichever you prefer, we can help you find the perfect fitted furniture at Strachan.

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