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Modern vs Contemporary-Whatsthedifference

22 Mar 2017

Much to the annoyance of those in the design industry, ‘Modern’ and ‘Contemporary’ office furniture design are not one and the same. The two words have been casually used and interchanged so often it’s lead the unschooled to mix them up and confuse others in the process. And we’ve heard this topic come up so often, we’ve decided to clear it once and for all.

Modern Design

Simply put, modern refers to an era, a specific period of time between 1920’s - 1950’s where this design was conceptualized and created. The style is identified by defining elements and will not change.

A modern design would incorporate natural elements like wood, leather or even linen. The look is clean, minimal and the materials are prominent. It is in fact a reflection of the modern design movement during that period, which go against and ornate and extravagant traditional designs like victorian or gothic. This is why you’ll mostly see straight lines in a modern office. Chrome also plays a big part here.

Contemporary Design

Contemporary on the other hand, is a lot more flexible , dynamic and is reflective of the current trends and popular designs in the same time. “ Belonging to or occurring in the present” is the technical definition. Which means what is contemporary today, may not be considered the same a decade into the future.

Presently, contemporary would mean open plans, and inclusion of biophilia, focus on collaborative spaces and a priority on sustainability.

The confusion is understandable, though. Several elements belonging to modern designs are still used in contemporary designs. Minimalist and clean lines are still popular. It remains to be seen whether the trend will continue.


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