Modern design encompasses a lot of different incarnations, which can make it difficult to define. In its simplest terms, modern interior design refers to the reflection of the modern art movement on the interiors of the home. There are several central characteristics and design themes seen throughout modern design, however, that could be described in part as the definition.
Design Themes in Modern Design
Modernism was a rejection of the ornate flourishes of other design styles, such as Gothic, Renaissance and Victorian styles of design. Therefore, many of the different modern designs have several common components of which the design themes have become associated with modern design.
Clean Straight Lines
Modern design was meant to be the antithesis of the previous design styles which used heavy textures, carvings and wood tones throughout the home. Therefore, most components of modern design, from the furniture to the shape of the rooms, includes clean, straight lines with no additional detail. This differs slightly from contemporary design, which uses curves and sweeping lines; modern design’s lines are crisper, sharper and very spare.
That said, there are several different design types that fall into this category, particularly for furnishings, such as:
- Mission style
- Art Deco
Any of these or other clean, spare furnishings are an integral part of modern interior design. Paired with the furnishings are things like:
- Oversized tiles with rectified edges
- Sanded wood floors that minimize the grain
- Bookcases and shelves inset into walls, rather than protruding into the space
- Open floor plans with few walls
- Lack of moldings trimming windows, doors and walls
Use of Metal
Chrome and stainless steel make up a big part of modern design. Doing away with traditional metal details (like wrought iron) opens up the door for clean, polished metals to be used in their place.
It’s not uncommon to see chrome or stainless steel as part of the furniture, such as table legs or exposed portions of a chair’s frame. Chrome is used extensively throughout the home seen in faucets, doorknobs, cabinet handles, lamps and railings. Polished chrome has a very high shine and a slightly blue undertone that makes it appear very cold, which helped it fit in well with modern design’s mission for moving away with older, more “lived in” styles.
Minimalism plays an integral part in modern design, contemporary modern design and contemporary design. The basics of minimalism include a “less is more” approach to designing a space. This means there are no superfluous details such as columns, moldings, cabinet trim, excessive use of color or excessive use of textiles.
Minimalist design can be thought of as spare, but in reality it takes a lot of planning to ensure that what’s included in the home is absolutely necessary. Minimalist homes are often far more comfortable than they appear, due to the way they are streamlined for efficiency.