Difference between contemporary and modern design

If you are in the process of designing or renovating your home, you may be wondering whether to include modern design or contemporary design in the design layout. Well, the terms – modern and contemporary are closely related and people tend to use the terms interchangeably. However, in the world of design and décor, both the terms represent distinct and different styles.


Modern design was evolved in 1920s in Germany and was drastically sough to simplify the Victorian style. On the other hand, contemporary design was evolved many years later and has itself focused on variety and comfort.


Both contemporary and modern styles have various popular types. Some of the popular modern designs are bohemian modern, mid century modern, and vintage modern. On the other hand, contemporary design deals with the monochromatic, minimalistic and neutral color scheme.


Modern design is simple and sober and features minimal accessories. The modern design is characterized with angular frames, low profiles, geometric and abstract patterns in textiles, upholstery as well as in artwork. Natural materials like linen, leather and teak wood are mostly used. The lines are unembellished as well as straight. In modern design, the furniture is often raised from the floor with the help of legs in order to create an airy and open atmosphere. Colors used in modern design are neutral shades that are highlighted with splashes of color. Walls are generally cream and white in color. Floors are mostly made of cement or bare wood. In addition, sculptures and paintings are used as an integral part of modern design.

As contemporary design deals with “the present moment”, the style of the design is of the day. Contemporary design is known to feature reflective surfaces, clean and sleek lines, innovative graphical patterns, unusual colors, rounded forms, and asymmetrical designs. One has the liberty to play with colors and patterns in contemporary design. Lots of polished marble, Lucite and stainless steel details are embedded in the design. The other materials used in contemporary design are recycled materials and variations of chrome, plastic and plaster. The tenets of contemporary style are open ended. As a result, new colors and pieces can be incorporated over time.


Modern design is known to impart a retro effect as it features vintage pieces such as Eames chairs, Formica tables and ottomans. In contrast, a futuristic element is created by contemporary design through the use of modular shelving and pod seating.

Published by in How To, Tips, and Advice, on January 10th, 2011


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