Characteristics of Contemporary Furniture
If you would like to know more about how to design your contemporary home, you should know that furniture is a large part of the style, along with the architectural aspects, of course. Two distinct branches of furniture design existed in the 1970s and 1980s: “high tech” and “craft revival”.
As Postmodern styles of furniture emerged in the late 1970s, furniture designers became more concerned with the form of the furniture, rather than with the function (Miller). A piece of furniture became an art piece, an aesthetically-inspired work of art that would double as a seating system. Here is an overview of the characteristics of postmodern and contemporary furniture.
Furniture was made of injection-molding, plastic laminates, marble, and recycled material. Injection-molding allowed precision to the forms by using high pressure. Plastic laminates were basically wooden furniture covered with colorful, exotically patterned plastic. Marble is a more permanent material that was often paired with plastic, glass, metal, and wood. Recycling became more popular in the 70s and 80s; along with environmental reasons, designers liked to use found objects to create unique works of art.
Postmodern designers incorporated awkward asymmetry into their furniture generally by its shape or color. Humor was also used; for example, a plain box-like table could be painted with ornate details to depict a Victorian style table. Cartoons were an important source of inspiration for Pop artists, and designers picked up on this by incorporating it into their furniture. Color and pattern were also used exuberantly in contemporary furniture.
Non-permanent furniture was becoming very popular. Modular furniture first showed up in the 1960s and, in the 1990s, designers slowly began to return to this theme. Casters were also common, especially in office furniture, which led to the questioning the values of permanence and universalism.
Philippe Starck, an Interior Designer, Architect, and Furniture and Product Designer who was born in Paris in 1949, rose to prominence in the 1980s. He spent much of the ’70s designing and furnishing nightclubs but, during the 1980s and 1990s, his lighting and furniture design won him the most approval (Miller). Still today, his designs remain influential.
When designing your contemporary home, focus a lot of your attention on the furniture you select. What you need to look for is basically clean, asymmetrical lines, odd shapes, mixed materials, a minimalistic feel, and bold colors. Avoid clutter by limiting each room to only a few pieces of essential furniture. Be sure to pair a few pieces of functional furniture with sculptural pieces that can serve as art, and have fun with it. Contemporary design is all about having fun!