Strictly speaking, there is a clear difference between modern and contemporary design although the two are often used as interchangeable definitions. Whilst ‘modern’ describes a certain style of interior design, often ranging from around 1950 until the present day, contemporary describes what is happening right now, and is always moving. Since current trends portray many features of modern interior design, because those features are en vogue today, they are also contemporary which is where the terms overlap. In a few years, as modern interior design is overtaken by newer trends, contemporary and modern will carry entirely different meanings. Contemporary defines interior design that is trend-led, but that can mean any trend. Some of today’s popular home styles include farmhouse rustic and Art Deco, therefore neither are modern, but they are contemporary because of their current popularity.
Contemporary interior design also alludes to homes with technological innovations to improve the space from visual and functional viewpoints. Constant developments in energy provision and the use of materials in particular is giving more homes a contemporary edge, from intelligent heating to stronger and more resistant kitchen cabinetry. Homes with traditional features are then left behind and contemporary innovations are leading the way.
The layout of your home or building can also dictate whether a home is contemporary or not. Modern homes and even traditional homes tend to have certain generic layout preferred for living rooms and dining rooms, whereas contemporary rooms will have unusual or inspired layouts that meet the function of the room perfectly, instead of forcing lifestyles to adapt to traditional ways of living. Open plan living is one current example of contemporary design using intelligent layouts. Opening the dining, living, and kitchen areas of a home into one larger space is more conducive to communication and managing busier lifestyles, and is often coupled with sleek and minimal décor, currently considered as contemporary. We associate this sleek, minimal, and sharp interior design as contemporary, because of its current trend and fashion, and not because of the qualities of the interior design itself.
Contemporary interior design also lends itself to homes and buildings that are unique and eclectic. Trend-leading homes dictate interior design fashions and so the most innovative and intriguing designs can also be described as contemporary in their position as a trendsetter. Contemporary is a fluid description and it’s subjects are constantly evolving, something described as contemporary today, won’t always carry that same description.
So for the minute, it’s easy to understand and see why people are using the two terms interchangeably when discussing interior design. But as trends develop and our tastes grow, we should keep in mind the true definitions so that we can paint truer pictures of our homes and personal spaces for years to come.