Modern Style can be confusing to many, not only because it is notoriously ambiguous, but it also defies its very name. "Modern", in the way that most people think of it, means "of present times" or "up to date", but in fact Modern design is rooted in social and economic ideals that began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The social and economic ideals of modernism play a role in the Modern design aesthetic. Though the design reform movement began in the 19th century, it gained a more mainstream following in the 1920's. Due to social and economic unrest in Europe, the climate of change and rebellion against traditional values, art, religion, and design was in full swing. After World War II, Modern style gained popularity, but lost much of its association with many of the socio-economic ideals. It became about the design and not the philosophy behind it. Consequently, "post-modernism" comes onto the scene during the 1960's. Though rooted in modernism, it criticized the relevance of some design elements. When a design concept spans many decades, it naturally follows that there will be sub- categories within the main style. Several styles are classified as "modern" including Art Deco, Mid Century Modern, International style, and Post Modern. Though they all share sleek lines, open spaces, simple embellishments, and clear uncluttered surfaces, each decade has its individual traits. The best way to go about finding which one you like is to look at several pictures and find what suits you. Of course, mixing these sub styles is a great way to bring interest and personality to a space.
Here are a few ideas to help create Modern style:
-Colors- Restrained palettes are common including: off white, grey, brown, and black. White is the most popular choice because it embodies the clean sculptural feel of modern design. Often there is a pop of bright or bold color somewhere in the room, either in an accessory or rug. With the extensive use of glass, often the outdoors is integrated into the interior space offering colors of nature.
-Furnishings- The furnishings in Modern style are more like pieces of art. Their shapes are simple but also innovative and unique. Descriptive names such as "cube", "egg" and "swan" chairs are a small sample of the creative products. Leather, chrome, and steel are finishes to remember with Modern design. With simplicity seen everywhere in a Modern space, furniture is a great way to bring interest to a space.
-Artwork And Accessories- Art is often abstract or pop art. Bright bold colors and geometric shapes dominate. Most importantly, though, choose something that you like. It is tempting to buy it if it "goes" but make sure that it is something you will not mind staring at for a while. Accessories are a great place to throw in some period specific details. For instance, an Art Deco silver cocktail shaker or a 60's pop art poster can spark conversation.
-Putting It all together- If Modern design is so hard to pin down, and encompassing several sub-styles, how do you get a cohesive sleek space and not end up looking like you have not moved in yet? Choosing pieces carefully, for their form as well as function, is key. If storage is an issue, be sure to include furniture that can keep clutter at bay. A fabulous lamp will go a long way to bring a room together. Most of all make you love it. Design should be fun, and be about what you like. So do not be afraid, go for it!