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Furniture - Modern Design, Materials, Manufacturing

Author: CC

Nov. 28, 2023

104 0

Tags: Furniture

After the late 19th century, furniture design in the West was divided into two main categories: revivals of past styles—only occasionally precise reproductions, more often free adaptations; and various expressions of changing modern life. The latter category absorbed the best as well as the most progressive talents of the era.

Modern furniture design after World War I was of three kinds: functionalist modern—progressive, adhering to an aesthetic of the machine and often designed by leading architects; transitional modern, which came to be called contemporary and was infused with elements from the past; and commercial modern, called “Borax” because hawkers of that cleanser used to offer premiums, and the word became associated with extra values which commercial furniture often offered by the manner in which it was advertised, or in overblown forms and gaudy veneers. All furniture design was influenced by the social and economic trends of the era: formal living declined; mechanization of household labour expanded; living spaces shrank, particularly in height; and home entertainment became important. After World War II, especially, people married at a younger age, total population growth accelerated, and a generally rising standard of living was enjoyed by a vastly enlarged middle-income group. Furniture became smaller, lighter, easier to maintain, and more widely distributed.

Functionalist modern

About 1925, a new rationality began in furniture design, stimulated by the emergence of progressive experiments typified in the works and theories of the Bauhaus, a revolutionary German school of arts and crafts established in 1919 and staffed by leading architects, designers, and painters until Hitler closed it in 1933. Bauhaus instruction used crafts as experimental techniques and trained students to design for mass production. Low price levels, maximum utility, good quality, and simple, clear forms were considered essentials of well-designed consumer goods. The celebration of modern technology in progressive design was the most effective accomplishment of the Bauhaus. Forms, colours, and materials hitherto confined to shops and laboratories were introduced into homes and offices with programmatic earnestness and considerable stylishness. Tubular chrome-plated metal, black Bakelite, and large unframed planes of glass were typical. Much furniture used at midcentury in reception rooms, terraces, kitchens, or dining alcoves derived from Bauhaus originals. The availability of wood in Scandinavia led, in the 1930s, to similar rational, modern furniture, using a variety of laminating techniques. Related, more ambitious experiments in three-dimensional molding of wood laminates were undertaken in the United States around 1940. Then wartime austerity enforced a salutary simplicity.

After World War II, earlier design activity resumed. Scandinavian designers abandoned advanced technology for a time and launched a victorious campaign for sculptured, solid-wood furniture in matte finishes that notably enlarged the vocabulary of progressive design. Italian furniture was similar in trend, more open to structural and technological experiments but more accented and less acceptable generally. American modern furniture achieved its first international influence in molded plywood and plastic chairs and in semiarchitectural storage units.

Functionalist modern furniture consciously related itself to progressive architecture, which aided its steady growth in the third, fourth, and fifth decades of the 20th century; at the same time it was also encouraged by friendly periodicals, shops, and museums. Educational and cultural agencies earlier in the century had generally opposed modern design, but gradually there was a change in attitude, and by the mid-20th century it was accepted.

Transitional modern

Conservative in style (but not imitative), well-constructed, and carefully finished, the best modern furniture earned its reputation of being in good, correct taste. Often relying on handcraft details and on wood, most factories used speeded-up variations of earlier cabinetmaking operations. This, along with the United States’ emphasis on artificially stimulated obsolescence, affected all modern design between World Wars I and II. As in the case of stylistic revivals, favourite sources of inspiration for transitional modern were late 18th- and early 19th-century court and country house furniture, with variations in Chinese and Rococo. This furniture served a wide public that found the avant-garde forms and materials too cold and “clinical.”

Commercial modern

Most modern furniture designed between 1930 and 1940 was bulky, bulbous, glowingly coloured, glossily finished, and rich with hardware or shiny fabric. It pleased the public but not critics and connoisseurs. Gradually, and more noticeably after 1945, stylistic details filtered down from more progressive design levels to appear as commercial fads, such as sectional seating and storage units, spidery metal frames, and plastic-shell seats; the Victorian whatnot (set of open shelves for the display of bric-a-brac) was revived, freestanding and rectilinear, as the room divider. Convertible sofa beds and radio and television cabinets were almost all designed in the commercial manner. The innovation of foam upholstery was bitterly fought by union workmen around 1940 but in 15 years had become commonplace in sleeping and seating furniture.

In time a continual flow of new production methods effected basic changes. Lighter masses, thinner silhouettes, and new forms made possible by new materials as well as new technologies seemed to put modern furniture design on the threshold of a new era. By 1970, however, faddism and commercial versions of bizarre and bloated shapes in seating furniture again ushered in a new brand of “Borax.”

Edward J. Wormley

What is the Difference between Modern and Contemporary Furniture Design?

Different Time Periods

It can be very difficult to distinguish between modern and contemporary furniture design. This is because they are very similar to the untrained eye.

The main difference between the two is that modern furniture design specifically relates to the architectural style that was popular between the early 1900s and 1950. Whereas contemporary furniture design belongs to the current time period.

Another difference is the architectural lines. Modern furniture has straight lines and contemporary furniture has bold and sweeping curves. Also, modern furnishings are more likely to use warmer materials and colours than their contemporary counterparts.

The Birth of Modern Design

Modern furniture design reflects the modernist movement of the 20th century. These modernists wanted to develop new cultural norms, in a world that had experienced great change since the industrial revolution.

Modernism brought the end to the over the top styles that came before. Heavy textures, carvings and wood tones were replaced with open space and minimalist features.

Modern furniture design rose to prominence in the 1900s. Originating from the German Bauhaus Schools of design, modernism focused on minimal features and maximum function. Late modernism and postmodernism followed, eventually evolving into the contemporary style of the late 70s.

The very definition of contemporary is that it belongs to the present, reflecting the architectural trends that are popular right now. Meaning contemporary furniture designs are always changing. Since its birth in the 70s, contemporary design has continuously evolved. Although to clarify, what was considered contemporary in the 70s is now considered vintage.

What is Contemporary Home and Furniture Style?

Bare and Minimal Furnishings

The contemporary space is calm, collected and mature with neutral and masculine colours preferred. Curved lines in the design are important and the room should not be cluttered, with space itself used as a decoration. Minimal furnishing is essential, meaning all the features in the room are bold and noticeable.

Contemporary favours smooth surfaces and clean lines. Furniture should be simple and clean cut with inviting shapes in natural colour tones. It should emphasise openness, drawing attention to other statement furnishings so that they stand out more vividly. Contemporary fitted furniture in particular is all about seeing the beauty in unadorned style to create bright, airy rooms where less is more.

Contemporary Fitted Furniture Rethinks Space

Breaking away from traditional design norms is key to a contemporary space and the same can be said for furniture of this style. A contemporary home will often make good use of areas that would normally be dismissed as ‘unusable’ to create stunning room configurations that are fresh and unexpected. Contemporary furniture conveys a fluidity where nothing is off limits and how you style your space will only be limited by the boundaries of your imagination.

Contemporary Style Makes Use of Contrasts

Contemporary style isn’t uniform, it’s far more open to asymmetrical designs and striking contrasts. Our contemporary bedroom furniture is a perfect example and mixes materials and finishes to create a visually arresting look. The use of different textures bridges the gap between the natural and the manmade, helping to highlight the main focal elements of the room.

What is Soft Contemporary Style?

Soft Contemporary Furniture Has Curves

Soft contemporary is inviting and mature. It moves away from the harsh lines of the modern design era, making way to soft curves, smooth features and ambient interiors. Soft contemporary furniture aims to create inviting spaces, whilst protecting the design from trending influences that will become quickly outdated.

Open Spaces and Warm Colours

Soft contemporary furnishings favour more traditional materials that can help the home better resonate with its natural surroundings. Warm materials like hardwood, are chosen over cold materials like metal and marble, to create a more cosy environment.

Rich wooden hues are preferred for soft contemporary fitted furniture to create an organic feel that reflects the harmony of nature. As with all contemporary designs, furnishings should be clean cut and minimal, to reduce clutter and give an air of spaciousness.

What is Modern Style Furniture?

Modern furniture design is the opposite of the grandiose styles of the 1800s and early 1900s

Modern furnishings are worlds apart from the grand and over-flourished style that came before the modern movement. They focus on minimising clutter and maximising functionality, often making use of wood and earthy elements.

Modern design takes its notes from the international style of architecture which developed in the 1920s and continued to evolve until the 1970s. Even though the art deco period of the 1920s is considered modern, the mid-century modern designs of the 1950s and 1960s are the most popular styles.

Modern Furniture Design makes use of Straight Lines

A modern styled interior consists of clean, straight lines in comparison to a contemporary design which makes use of bold, sweeping and curved lines. Crisp, sharp and bare, modern homes utilise space just like contemporary designs, but with lines that bring out a harder definition. This modern fitted bedroom furniture uses vertical lines to draw the eye upward combined with a dark, dijon walnut headboard to direct attention into the room.

Monochrome Modernism

Another hallmark of modernist furniture design is its limited palette. You won’t find as many contrasting colours here – the ethos of the modernist style is to let the charm of natural materials do the talking. Furniture of this style, such as the modern fitted wardrobes on our website, will have no ornamentation at all, preferring instead to present a flat, unbroken look throughout the room. Plain tones are used to create a naturalistic feel that’s calming and inviting, with a greater emphasis placed on all elements in the room balancing each other out, rather than creating bold points of interest.

What’s your style? Minimalist modern or perhaps more contemporary chic? Whichever you prefer, we can help you find the perfect fitted furniture at Strachan.

Furniture - Modern Design, Materials, Manufacturing

What is the Difference between Modern and Contemporary ...

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