I have recently been realizing Modern and Contemporary design are often used interchangeably but in fact they are two very distinct entities. I myself am often guilty of using the word 'modern' when what I really meant was 'contemporary' or vice versa. Very simply, modern design is short for Mid Century Modern design and refers to a period in time which is roughly 1930 - 1960 while contemporary design is continually changing.
Mid Century Modern design has a very distinct look and feel utilizing natural materials and clean lines. ‘Modern’ Interiors are unadorned and uncluttered with the use of sparse pops of color. Molded plywood and plastic were very popular materials used in furniture design to accompany the heavy use of wood, leather and linen within the Modern interior. Widely well known designers from this period include Florence Knoll, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. There is a beautiful example of Mid Century Modern architecture by Wright, located in our very own Kirkwood, MO. To get your hands on authentic Modern furniture check out Knoll - they have an online shop and are one of the manufacturer's that aren't exclusive to the design trade.
The definition of contemporary is ‘belonging to or occurring in the present.’ This definition also describes contemporary interior design. Simply, contemporary design is what is popular now. Contemporary design is often misrepresented as modern design because currently
popular design has a lot of modern design characteristics. In a contemporary home today, you will often find clean lines, a connection to the outdoors, and an abundance of natural materials. Understandably it can be confusing to choose the appropriate diction when describing one of these design styles, but always remember - 20 years from now,
contemporary design will have a whole new look.