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modern, contemporary or just plain kitsch!

Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 by

since modmood and RETRO Consignment has modern, contemporary and vintage 50′s and 60′s furniture, we are often asked to explain the difference between the styles. also, we will get a design client that will say they like or want modern furniture, when it is really a contemporary look they want.  so…i thought i would talk today about the various differences in those three styles of furniture, furnishings and accessories.

modern furniture is generally described as a style of furniture that originated in the post-war era (mid 1900′s; 50′s, 60′s and some 70′s).  these pieces have a very distinct look and design.  this style was greatly influenced by the scandinavian contemporary and bauhaus movements.  many of the pieces were designed by architects of the time.  there are many iconic pieces from the modern era.

some examples of modern furniture:

contemporary furniture, on the other hand, is exactly what it states;  current and new furnishings…what is happening now.

contemporary style (design, art, and furnishings) changes, it is dynamic with fewer rules and more open-ended applications than modern.  these fewer rules and open-ended applications allow for incorporation of new and innovative materials.  what was contemporary in a certain time period (such as the yellow and orange photo below) may not be contemporary in the future (photo 2). another factor that is often attributed to contemporary design but not necessarily correct is that it is very “cold”.   while in some instances it can be (a lot of contemporary work in the 90′s and early 00′s might have been) it is not necessarily a perquisite for a contemporary look.

currently contemporary design may incorporate organic or even mid century modern elements as seen below:

50’s and 60’s vintage can incorporate many looks.

if you like the mcm (mid-century modern) style then you are going to be drawn specifically to the iconic pieces of modernism developed in this time period.  if you are more into the atomic style then you are going to be drawn to those items we all remember from “george jetson” era.  and if you are just plain vintage you will be attracted to all those items that your grandma had in the basement…you know those things that made you wonder what grandma and grandpa did on friday night with that old bar with the great bar stools, the record player and the mountains of martini’s sets.  oh yeah, let’s not forget that formica dinette table now in their garage.

modern furniture and vintage kitsch is static, the pieces are what the pieces are…where contemporary furniture is very dynamic and is constantly changing.  you may find 70′s contemporary but it will look entirely different from 2010 contemporary.

does this explanation work?  i would love to have your feed back.