What is the Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Design?

modern and contemporary design

Are you an HGTV junkie? Maybe you consider yourself an expert on all things “home design.” But when Jonathan and Scott throw out terms like “ mid-century modern” with a “contemporary flair” don’t you wonder what these terms actually mean? I mean modern and contemporary are synonyms in the dictionary. Are Jonathan and Scott just confused? Well we are here to answer the question: What is the difference between modern and contemporary design?

Modern Design

Modern design became popular in the 1950s and 60s. This is generally why it is referred to as ‘mid-century.” Modern design mainly features wood and earthy tones, while combining some elements of industrialization. The industrial revolution had a large impact on design at that time, as is reflected in the style’s sleek and simple furniture. This combination of nature and industry shines the spotlight on neutral as well as natural colors. Exposed brick, stone, and leather are very popular features in modern design. 

Contemporary Design

Contemporary design is much more difficult to define. This is because it encompasses any and all trends in the current world of interior design. For example, at the current time, minimalism and environmentalism are trending. Big open rooms with few furnishings and/or an abundance of house plants and sustainable materials are all the rage. Contemporary design changes rather quickly, as trends change as quickly as your sheets. (this should be every 2 weeks by the way!)

What is the Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Design?

Modern and contemporary design often overlap. As stated above, environmentalism and the use of natural materials are currently features of both types of design. However, while modern design will eventually become outdated (kind of ironic right?), contemporary design will adapt to the times. 

While the two terms may seem synonymous, the reality is that they can mirror each other one day, and oppose each other the next. Now next time you sit for an HGTV binge on your Emma mattress, you’ll be able to make your own insightful comments about “modern aesthetics” and “contemporary furnishings.”

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