Comparing modern and contemporary styles in interior decor

When describing interior designs, the terms ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ are often mentioned together. Many people use one instead of the other, assuming that they are the same. The fact is, although they may have overlapping characteristics, these are two different style genres with quite different histories.
Modernism was a particular movement in art and design that arose in Europe in the early to mid 1900s. This means that the ‘modern’ style is a fixed look that will never change. On the other hand, ‘contemporary’ refers to the latest, current style that is always changing and constantly evolving. Meaning, in a way, it is the opposite of modern.

Modern design, to elaborate further, is characterized by refined lines and minimalist silhouettes with natural shapes, natural fabrics and earthy tones. It favours open furniture giving a feeling of airiness, bare floors and the elimination of unnecessary detailing. Modern styles also tend to be restrained in the use of colour, often using monochromatic schemes. One of the key beliefs behind the modern design movement is the idea that the design of all furnishings and decorative objects should reflect its intended purpose, and if a piece of furniture or a decorating detail does not have a practical purpose, it can be eliminated.

This philosophy behind the modern style makes it a perfect decorating choice for those who like simple, uncluttered spaces with clean lines and a lack of fussy adornments. It has stood the test of time and is still considered tasteful, remaining popular even a century after it was born.

Contemporary design is another style altogether. This is obvious from the very definition of the word, which means “existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the same time.”

So, the contemporary style ever changing. It is a style “of the moment.” It may borrow pieces and styles from many different eras, it may blend the old with new, trending styles and colours. At present, a minimalist, modernist look is popular, which means that key pieces of furniture in many contemporary interiors are in the modern style. This may be one reason why these two terms are used interchangeably at present. However, in another 10 or 20 years, the contemporary style might be completely different from what it is now while the modern style will remain fixed.

Contemporary interiors are sleek and fresh, although they may include curving lines. The finishes tend to use a lot of natural elements. Comfort and sustainability are key values that are important in a contemporary home. One hidden element of luxury that sets contemporary homes apart is technology. For example, home automation systems – wireless and remote access controls for controlling electronics, heating/cooling systems, lighting, security and more are trending in today’s contemporary style.

The contemporary era of design is about letting go of strict, formal design rules. It would appeal to those who prefers to have an eclectic home, mixing and matching the luxury and comfort of today with the look of past eras.