Modern Decorating Ideas & Modernist Furniture Design

Modern home decorating might feel like a big challenge to some homeowners and would be interior designers.

When done right, a modern home décor appeals to our sensibilities with its distinctive use of bold asymmetry, polished surfaces, strong geometry, clean lines and neutral colors.

Coming from the German words for "to build" and "house", the Bauhaus school ironically had no architecture department in its initial years.

But, the Bauhaus style has since become a major influence in Modern design and architecture.

Bauhaus Mechanical Window

Modern Home Design

Starting around 1930, modern home design evolved out of Scandinavian modern design and the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany.

On the home’s exterior, windows are usually unadorned and seamlessly blend the interior with the exterior landscape.

Neutral colors allow design elements create the focal points, with white walls predominating. Neutral tone on tone color schemes will tend to be used with the fabrics, furnishings, accessories and fabrics.

Materials with smooth, polished finishes are common in modern decor, with polished concrete, granite or even linoleum often used for flooring. From an architectural perspective, the modern home makes splendid use of angular, geometric, shapes. Accessories and art are given importance over the architectural features, often taking striking shapes and forms meant to make a bold statement.

Stainless steel or polished metals are common accents found on furniture and in the kitchen. A lacquered finish on cabinetry is quite typical.

Emphasis of Art, Technology and Craft in Modern Design

Special artwork and accessories will often have spotlights focused on them to enhance the visual impact. Finding these centerpieces is one of the most intriguing and exciting parts of modern decorating.

The modernist innovation was meant to use radically simplified forms and emphasizes the integration of art, technology and craft. Machines are considered to be a positive element, with industrial and product design becoming important components.

Adorned or gilded carved wood and rich, patterned fabrics are replaced by the geometric shapes and simplicity of polished metal or lacquered surfaces. Modern furniture forms will be visually light as opposed to the heavier visual forms of earlier design aesthetics.

Evolution of the Modernist Movement

Before the modernist movement furniture as ornament was emphasized and the amount of time it took to create a piece typically determined its desirability and worth. Modernist sensibilities shift this emphasis to form, function and accessibility.

Whereas western architecture and furniture design historically sought to convey a sense of lineage and connectedness to history and tradition, the modern movement emphasized originality, newness, and technical innovation, speaking more about the present and future.

Modernist design evolved from several influences; innovative new technologies and manufacturing methods that brought new materials like plastics and plywood, design philosophies emerging from the Bauhaus School and Werkbund, exotic cultural influences, the Art Nouveau movement and heightened creativity of designers and artists of the era.

Eileen Grey Side Table

Modern Furniture Icons

Barcelona chair
The Barcelona chair represents the Bauhaus design movement and is considered functional art, rather than furniture only. Designed in 1929 for an international design fair in Barcelona by Lilly Reich and Mies Van Der Rohe, the chair was supposed to have been inspired by the folding chairs of Egyptian Pharaohs and Roman X-shaped footstools, and was dedicated to the royal family of Spain.

Noguchi coffee table
A multi-talented architect, sculptor and furniture and landscape designer, Isamu Noguchi (1904 – 1988), famed for creating organic modern forms, was half Japanese and half American. The Noguchi Coffee Table became famous for its distinctive simplicity. A natural and refined form, it is one of the modern classic pieces most desired.

Eileen Grey side table
This bedside table was designed in 1927 to be used as a bedside table for the guest room in Ms. Grey’s own home. Displaying an unusual asymmetry, it characterizes her non conformist design aesthetic. True to her training in the Bauhaus, the side table emphasizes utility; one can adjust the table to comfortably have breakfast in bed, which was likely the original purpose of the piece.

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