Modern vs Contemporary Furniture: What's the Difference?

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The terms "modern" and "contemporary" are thrown around interchangeably in the world of interior design. However, the two furniture styles have distinct influences that set them apart. We wrap up our series on popular furniture styles with a look at how contemporary furniture differs from modern furniture.

Contemporary and Modern: A Matter of Semantics?

Modern furniture is a design style that came about at the beginning of the 20th century. With clean lines and a focus on functionality, modern furniture stood in contrast to the Victorian style, which dominated furniture design for many years with a focus on rich, intricate, and ornate details. Contemporary furniture, on the other hand, refers to the design style of the present moment. What makes contemporary furniture "contemporary" is that the latest technology, cultural influences, and societal changes continually influence it. For example, in terms of societal changes, the trend toward sustainability has influenced current furniture designers to use eco-friendly materials such as bamboo, cork, and recycled materials. 

Technology and Contemporary Furniture

Because contemporary furniture belongs to the moment, it embraces advancements in the latest materials and cutting-edge technologies. Designers like Philippe Starck, Nendo, and many others utilize these materials and technologies to create innovative furniture designs. Some of the most significant advancements influencing today's furniture include: 

  • New synthetic materials. Synthetic materials such as polycarbonate, polypropylene, and other plastic derivatives have allowed designers to create new forms, colours, and textures in current design. 
  • Manufacturing advancements. Technological advances such as CNC (computer numerical control) machining, 3D printing, and laser cutting have allowed designers to create more intricate and complex contemporary furniture.
  • "Smart" furniture. Using "smart" materials such as memory foam and shape-memory alloys has allowed designers to create furniture that responds to its environment and adapt to changing conditions.

These are just a few examples of how contemporary furniture is influenced by the latest manufacturing and technological advancements, but as technology changes, so do the influences on contemporary furniture manufacturing.

This brings us to one final question…

Will Contemporary Furniture Always Be Contemporary?

Contemporary refers to furniture that is being inspired and created at the moment. But as our furniture style series has demonstrated, style is ever-changing and growing. Just as the "modern furniture" movement is no longer considered "contemporary," the furniture created today will no longer represent what is happening or what is popular or trending. While we can’t look into a crystal ball and know for sure, it may very well be that what we understand to be “contemporary furniture” may even be given a new designation based on how future generations see and describe it.

Contemporary Furniture on Consignment at Around the Block

Fortunately, it doesn’t matter how future generations see or describe your home decor preferences.  Whether you like the clean lines and functionality of modern furniture, the innovation of contemporary styles, or even the ornate stylings found in traditional furniture, there are many ways to make your home look fantastic and function according to your needs. At Around the Block, quality furniture consignment of all the significant styles has been our mission for over 12 years. We offer an ever-changing and wide range of furniture to suit everyone’s style and needs. Browse all our furniture online at our website or stop by our store to see our current inventory.

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