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Modern and Contemporary Design: Know The Difference

Modern Classics Ox Chair and Eileen Gray Side Table

Modern Classics Ox Chair and Eileen Gray Side Table

Whenever I hear a design professional on TV use the terms modern and contemporary interchangeably, I just shake my head at their error.  For example, the contractor/host on any home improvement show today will always mention the main issue with his clients is something along the lines of “Joe’s style is traditional, where as Jane’s style is ‘modern contemporary'” (if you have never noticed this, now you will).  I may not even be bothered when these terms are used incorrectly when speaking in reference to architecture and design, if not for those four years I spent studying art history, making it impossible not notice this.  Since not everyone has a degree in art history, I am here to definitively clear up what is modern and and what is contemporary as it relates to architecture and design (I mean, this was taught in Basic Art History 101 so I would think my favorite celebrity house flippers would know better, but whatever).

Modern:  The 20th century style made by the famously creative minds of the Modern Movement.  These famous designers created an unprecedented style comprised of distinct elements representing the ideals of The Machine Age.  Features include minimalist and clean lines, absence of ornamentation and using materials representing the industrial age, like concrete and steel.

Contemporary:  Unlike modernism, contemporary architecture refers to the evolving architecture of the present day.  Contemporary architecture represents a broad range of styles and are homes that have been constructed in recent years, serving to meet all the needs of today (unlike historic modern homes constructed decades ago and usually holding landmark status).

…and there you have it.  Any questions?  Feel free to drop us a line or, even better, stop by any of our three factory showroom locations in BellinghamChicago or Dallas!