Are contemporary furniture and modern furniture different? That’s a question that people have been wondering about for ages. Even some interior designers are a bit confused by the two categories because they seem so similar. However, they can have some differences.
Contemporary Furniture Definitions:
For example, contemporary furniture has several definitions. For one thing, it can refer to furniture from a certain place in the world at a certain time. For example, present-day furniture made in Europe could be called “European contemporary”. The same is true of North America, China, Japan or any other region.
The word “contemporary” can also refer to furniture from a specific point in time. So, one might talk about 1950s contemporary furniture or 1980s contemporary furniture or even modern contemporary furniture. Any time period can define its own furniture as “modern contemporary”.
Modern Furniture Definitions:
Of course, defining something as “modern contemporary” may not be the same as defining it as “modern furniture“. It can be, if you use “modern” to mean “present-day”. However, the term “modern furniture” is usually meant to refer to a certain type of furniture, not a certain time period.
You see, the modernism movement was started by furniture designers who wanted to see function brought back to furniture. So, it began with simple pieces that were designed to do a specific job without any extra “frills”. Soon, it developed into a furniture movement that combined a variety of materials, especially metal and glass, to create clean, smooth surfaces and an artistic look, but with function in mind.
The modernism movement really got its start during the World War II era. People wanted functional furniture that was inexpensive. That began a machine-made furniture trend that also included some materials that were new at the time. Since then, the definitions of modern furniture have evolved with the changing times.
Time, Materials and Location:
Time, materials and location have had a lot to do with the creation of modern and contemporary furniture. Different regions and eras have had different materials to work with. For example, Germany was well known for producing some of the greatest furniture in the 1920s. The Bauhaus school churned out several great furniture makers and pieces.
On the other hand, the Japanese culture also began influencing modern furniture all over the world in the 1900s. In fact, a piece by a Japanese-American furniture maker named Noguchi is one of the most famous coffee tables done in the modernism style. Yet, the Japanese pieces and the German ones are quite different from each other.
So, are contemporary furniture and modern furniture different? They certainly can be, but they can also be quite similar. Both modernism and present-day contemporary pieces tend to be smooth and sleek and contain a variety of materials.
On the other hand, there can be a lot of differences between modern furniture and contemporary furniture. It all depends on what region and era you are in and how you define the two. No matter how you define the two, however, you are sure to come across some great pieces in any era or location.