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Often people get confused when they must decide between modern and contemporary furniture. Time and time again this question comes up as people often think that these two are the same in sense and nature. Ideally, modern design is related to a specific period which is between 1920′s and 1950′s. This is a defined style and does not change. It will remain such forever much to your surprise.

Contemporary design, on the other hand, is ever evolving the design. This is the design of the moment rather than a period. It is living and a breathing entity, well not in the real sense of it but symbolically.


Contemporary Furniture

Modern refers to the mid-century and is noticeably clean and unadorned. There is a lot of use of natural materials such as wood, teak, leather and linen. Molded plastic and plywood are very popular in modern furniture just like the polished metal. Modern design is usually referred to as retro these days.

Whatever that is existing and occurring this time will fall under contemporary design. It will be the popular design and will be very eclectic borrowing styles from all different eras. Art and furniture design from the modern era are often used in designing contemporary furniture.

Features of Contemporary Designs

As far as contemporary furniture is concerned you can see a lot of use of traditional moldings and millwork in many cases.

  • In a contemporary home, these designs may also be used in large windows to create a unique and odd shape.
  • It helps in creating an open plan that will harmonize with the surrounding landscape.
  • Finishes are given using natural elements such as cedar, fir and stone to give an in-ornate and clean line.
  • Comfort and sustainability are the key factors in such contemporary designs.

The Different Looks

You can choose from different looks and style in contemporary furniture such as Urban, Retro, Art Deco and Casual Contemporary Styles and others.

Urban furniture is a perfect choice for city dwellers with smaller living spaces. These usually have smaller pieces that may have sophisticated designs. Urban furniture is high in impact. Its features include:


Furniture Design

  • Striking lines and shapes
  • Very little ornamentation
  • Strong use of black along with other bright and primary colors
  • Range of materials such as metal, glass, light wood, leather and microfiber.

Retro furniture is whimsical and has a look of the eras between the 1950s and 1980s. Retro furniture today was modern and fashionable when it came out first. It means any furniture lying in your garage or basement can be well considered as retro with the following features and types:

  • Single piece plastic modular chairs with a distinctive feature
  • Formica topped tables
  • Chrome bar stools
  • Boomerang, space age and Sputnik style tables
  • Any item that has plenty of pop culture flavors and is kitschy.

Art Deco furniture has elegant lines and curves. It will not have intricate carvings as is in traditional furniture. Other features to watch include:

  • A unique style created
  • Use of luxurious materials and synthetic ones
  • Not look overly formal
  • Light finishes and medium toned woods
  • Its hallmark mirrored and chromed surfaces.

Mid-Century modern furniture has distinctive yet simple designs almost sculptural in quality of some of the most famous names. Other defining characteristics of this style that captures the essence are:

  • Form follows the function in designs
  • Have very little or no ornamentation
  • Include uncluttered and sleek lines
  • Use of traditional material such as wood
  • Use of non-traditional materials such as metal, glass, plywood and vinyl side by side
  • Properly juxtaposed material to reconnoiter texture
  • Vast range of color such as neutral, bold, black and white.

Casual contemporary is the most common of all that is relaxed, softer, updated with no hard edges and a bit larger than other contemporary furniture styles.