Modern or Postmodern: A Design Guide for Interior Decorators

When designing a room or an entire house full of rooms, modern and postmodern are two decorating styles with very different looks and ideas that are very popular today. These are two distinct styles of interior design that can be used to create beautiful and stylish rooms for clients. But which style to use? This choice depends on the client, their tastes and their lifestyle. Deciding on which approach to take means understanding the basics of each design style.

The artistic movement of modernism began in late 19th century Europe. At the time, Europe was undergoing industrialization, a process which radically transformed where and how people lived. Life was rapidly moving from small towns and farms to larger cities and smaller living spaces. This lifestyle change gave way to the modernist movement in design. Rejecting tradition was the hallmark of the style, and the thought was that new living required completely new design and interaction with the world. The simplistic approach to decorating is key to modernism. Anything stuffy, ornate and overdone was replaced with clean and sharp lines and simple design, with functionality as the key. Modernism meant sleek and fashionable pieces, with nothing fussy or overdone. Contemporary modern furniture is unique furniture that combines form, function and style in one complete package. The look of a room can be completely changed with just a few modernist pieces, which provide a sense of cleanliness, openness, and an absence of clutter. Italian furniture, in particular, is at the forefront of many modern styles, as the latest wave of Italian designers excels most in the design of sleek, functional home decor.

What type of client would suit the modern style? Modern ranges from futuristic to minimalist and appeals to many different tastes. Modern furniture is for the individual that is fun and fearless, fabulous and stylish. The kind of person that prefers simplicity, but wants to make a bold statement and stand out in the crowd as well. The modern style lover is someone who is up on the latest trends, not old fashioned in the least, and probably owns the latest in high-tech gadgets. They want visitors to enter their home and be captivated and interested by their unique sense of style.

The 1960’s saw a response to the modernist design in the form of postmodernism. Postmodern design shunned minimalism in favor of more decorative styles. This design trend started in America and subsequently spread across the globe. Rejecting function and minimal use of materials and embellishments, this style often placed form over function and borrowed from the past with eclectic designs. The hallmark of postmodern design is comfortable spaces for the mind, body and spirit with a mixture of materials and unconventional angles and symmetry. The types that defined the style were craft revival, ergonomic furniture – especially in modern office spaces – and art pieces like sculptural chairs and coffee tables. Postmodern design used things like plastic laminates, marble, and recycled materials. Recycling came into vogue in the 1970’s and this trend was reflected in the postmodern furniture of the day.

Who embraces the postmodern style? A postmodern design lover is cosmopolitan and well-traveled, creative and artsy with unconventional ideas, and is anything but traditional. They mock the established high-art ideal while embracing pop art and kitsch. Postmodern decor styles often appeal most to young, hip people who are interested in breaking away from the past and embracing a more playful, extravagant aesthetic for their home.

Modern and Postmodern: Two very different styles of design that each appeal to a unique personality type. Understanding the person you are designing for is the most important thing to consider when selecting a design style for a client’s home. Their tastes, personality and lifestyle are all key in finding the style that best brings their vision of the perfect living space to life. Do they prefer clean lines and simple design with a minimum of fuss? Are they into everything that is new and high-tech? Modernism would certainly appeal to this individual. Are they creative and artsy, with a love for things unconventional? Postmodernism sounds like the right design look for them.

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