What is Contemporary Interior Design Style?

I frequently get people saying that they want their home to be contemporary style. What does that mean? I struggle for the right answer.

Modern?... recent, characteristic of the present or the immediate past, contemporary.
Modernism?....the search for new forms of expression involving a deliberate break from the past.
Minimalism?...a design characterized by simplicity of form and arrangement.

Contemporary design or decoration literally means that it is happening now, it is existing, living now, reflecting today's design or fashion trends, modern.

So how do you find out what is contemporary?

By investigation. I have observed that what is for sale in the exclusive expensive interior design stores and depicted in the latest design magazines and purchased by an exclusive few today is usually the current trend, by the time all the other stores have seen it, copied it, and mass produced it, it is then contemporary to everyone else, whilst the true trend following people will be out there searching for the next new look as theirs is no longer in fashion!

So what do you provide for a client who wants a contemporary home?

What ever is the latest trend basically, let them do some work and find out what they have seen and what their idea of contemporary is. Let them show you the magazines, or brochures, pamphlets from designer stores and see which trend they think is contemporary. I know from experience that here in New Zealand, we can have more than one theme of trend being contemporary at the same time.

So I will not mention any style that are currently contemporary, as that will date my article!!

No really, trends depend on your location, your local vernacular. The design trend that works at Antarctica will not work at the Equator. Too many different environmental factors including the different types of light.

I will say that trends do die a sudden death, this is caused by market saturation. We see something we like at our friends place ask them where they got it, buy it, one of our friends likes it at our place, buys it too! Then all of a sudden everyone has it and we suddenly don't like it at all anymore and find a way to reuse it, sell it or recycle it, just get it out of our sight!

Trends also tend to come back to haunt us. Just like clothing fashion, I have now reached the age where the style of clothes my daughter is wearing, I used to wear as a child, but I have heard the saying that "First time around is fun, if you're there for the second time around steer clear!" So you won't see me in a pink polk a dotted ra-ra skirt!
The same happens with interior design, remember when you see old photographs of a room and you say "Oh, no! Look at that hideous wallpaper, brown with great big white flowers on it twisting up the walls, how could you ever put that on your wall!" I hate to say this but after years of ridding ourselves of it, and lets face it, brown wallpaper was almost extinct, it is now back with a vengeance, spruced up to be the new and current contemporary, but it is still bold and brown!

So where do we go to from here?

My opinion as an interior designer, if anyone wants to take notice, is that labels don't always fit. I truly believe that the interior design flavor is found from within the client, guided by you as a designer, but molded around the people that live in the home. At the completion it may look contemporary to them, and Scandanavian to you, but at the end of the day as long as it works for the client and they are happy and comfortable in their environment, then who cares what the style is called!

Have fun decorating in your local contemporary style.

Comments

Anonymous said…
hello,

Its me Ola Al Khateeb(interior Designer 3 years of Exp, I just read what you wrote about the contemporary style, I really loved it,beacuse myself as an interior Designer I always got confused to explain it to my client. I'm really glad to join this course.
Anonymous said…
Beautiful ending...I agree with this thinking and it encourages me. I just started studying interior design and I think all the time about how will my interior design business look like in a few years. That what scares me the most - not understanding correctly clients wants and needs. This article felt like a kind of therapy for me.:)
trendoffice said…
Trends are floating in the air and while it is true that they could be different for different locations on the globe, there are certain trends that establish themselves as global. I can quote the "Lace trend" that appeared several years ago and was part of the return of decor in interior and furniture design. With the help of all the new technologies it is possible - and desired by customers - to have lace patterns on any possible surface and material, wood and metal included.
sandra said…
I was one of those people. And then I figured out that what I was trying to say is : what I don't want. One could ask a person what they don't want and that would be a better question.

For example, in my mind(and perception is important) contemporary meant I did not want curly q's on furniture or gilded goal. Yet these same shapes and features can be used in a contemporary way.

I think if a designer will ask a person just to be specific and tell me all the features you absolutely don't want they could get at least semi closer to the truth.

Thanks for raising this. This may be a good project for your website or something worth selling: all the different design features associated with a given category so people can make a cross out on the features they definitely don't want.

I'm enjoying your blog and your website and love the free ebook.
Anonymous said…
Thanks againg for the very sensible advice. F.L.Wright-I admire his decorating. His interiors "stay" and I'm hoping to get Russians to like the use of wood, which they associate with run-down log houses in the villages.
Anonymous said…
Hi, everyone, who care about this issue! I'm Niyaz n want to say thanks to Lee Brown and her husband for this course. Related to modern design, I agree that it depends by individual - rich likes luxury and poor one impressed by different things, rich people here are different from the West or other place of the planet - it's depends on the place, money available, sex and personal history (i'm 55 y.o. n i agree with Lee Brown' analog with clothes or hair cut fashion - blue jeans' form or rock stars hair format in sixtees and seventees v. american army' hair cut - both stylish depends on time. Football is on its pick now, but next one'll be in 4 years. But the main point, obviously, as ussual, is effectiveness (in individual sense) n economical component.
Anonymous said…
This was very well thought out and well written. I agree with your definition of contemporary and the logic behind it.
Anonymous said…
perfect text! very helpful, really really accurate wording...
Thanks for sharing.

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