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.
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