Interior Design Styles Explained: #2 Modern

Nov 30, 2017

Welcome to our second edition of “Interior Design Styles Explained”! We hope you enjoyed our previous edition on Industrial Design (which you can find here). This time around, we’re featuring a style we’ve all come to love: Modern Design. This style is the reflection of the modern art movement inside a living space. We spoke to Kelly Cray – one of the principals from the interior design firm U31 – to learn all about it. Enjoy!

Where it came from.

 Modern Design


Modern Design emerged at the turn of the 20th century – the peak of the industrial revolution. It is a style that became dominant during the modernization that followed World War II, where simplification and minimalism became a widespread ideal.


For being a relatively new style, Modern Design has deep roots in both the German Bauhaus schools of design, and the Scandinavian beliefs of simplicity and function. It’s truly a style that’s saturated in history and significance, which is why it is widely considered a timeless design.


What it looks like.

 Modern Design


When we asked how he would describe the style, Kelly said that Modern Design is generally characterized by a clean look, with materials like polished metal, glass, molded plywood and plastics. In his exact words: “Today, designers like me, who have an affinity for modern design, utilize a variety of natural and new synthetic materials. A neutral colour palette is favoured, with walls often white and hints of colour used in moderation.”


Modern Design is often confused with Contemporary Design mainly because many modern design elements are found in contemporary schemes, creating false assumptions about these styles being interchangeable. In reality, Modern Design is defined by a specific era (1920’s-1950’s), while contemporary is “of the moment” and “ever evolving” .


The main differences between the contemporary and modern design is: in modern, the colours tend to lean toward naturals and neutrals, whereas  in contemporary, the colours can be quite bold. Also, modern design champions strong lines while contemporary emphasizes curves. These styles may be similar but they are in fact different and dynamic styles to creating a fantastic living space.


How it’s different.

The main thing that separates Modern Design from the other genres – Art Nouveau, Neoclassical and Victorian – is the opposition to highly ornate objects, intricately carved wood furniture and elaborately patterned fabrics.


Kelly pointed out that the modern “aesthetic” embraces a lot of minimalist factory technology and architecture. “Factories began to produce furniture that was stripped down of decoration and focus on the design of the piece in order to save time, money, material and labour”. This is why the idea of function over form is just as important as the notion of originality and technical innovation.


Stay tuned for the next edition to learn more about our other favourite interior design styles. If you would like to learn more about how you can achieve this look, or more about Marlin Spring, please visit us here.