Modern VS Contemporary: The Differences Between Both Designs

Rose Eclavea

Design styles such as Scandinavian and Muji, or modern and contemporary are styles that have left people puzzled for years due to their similarities. Today, we are here to help you better understand the differences between modern and contemporary interior design styles. 

Modern style and contemporary style? Aren’t they the same styles with different names? Well, we couldn’t be more wrong. Despite the fact that both words have the same definition in the dictionary, these styles have their own distinct characteristics and are vastly different from one another.

Modern Interior Design

Modern interior design rose to fame in the late 1800s; it is a style that refers to a specific time period between the late 1800s and 1950s. This style emerged at the height of the modern art movement, prior to contemporary interior design, with its distinct style placing emphasis on simple form and function. 

Contemporary Interior Design

The contemporary interior design style that we know today first gained popularity in the 1970s. Unlike the modern style, which stemmed from a specific period in history, the contemporary style is one that constantly evolves and is not limited to styles of a certain period. It changes in response to current decor trends and borrows characteristics from Modernism, minimalism, Art Deco, as well as a variety of other styles, without focusing on any one in particular.

Their Similarities

Some similarities in design exist between the modern and contemporary interior design styles, which may be confusing to some. However, once you’ve mastered these elements and how they function in the interior, you can mix and match them to create your own signature style.

1. Minimalist Aesthetics

Both of these design styles favour simple and clean architectural lines, such as basic geometric shapes and sleek furniture that do not feature ornate designs that can cause visual noise. It keeps the space uncluttered and minimal while displaying a sophisticated and timeless elegance.

2. Open Spaces

Both interior design styles emphasize the importance of creating large and open spaces within your home to prevent it from appearing cramped or cluttered. These spaces allow air and natural light to flow through.

While large open spaces may be difficult to achieve, especially in smaller condo units and HDB flats in Singapore, you can engage the assistance of an interior design company to create space-saving solutions so that your home is functional without looking overcrowded.

Their Differences

1. Choice of Materials

  • Modern

Natural materials, such as wood, and other earthier elements, are used in the modern style because they are eco-friendly and add character to the space. One will spot more fibre furniture and accessories such as linen sofas or cotton pillows and curtains in a modern interior.

  • Contemporary

Contemporary interior design features more state-of-the-art materials, such as glass and metals, which are created using modern techniques and technology. In a contemporary interior, the generous use of metal, stone and opaque or clear glass creates a polished and elegant appearance. Think rose gold accents, tinted glass partitions, or feature walls made of stone.

Heavily textured fabrics in plain colours are used for curtains, pillows, or rugs to soften the space and keep it from looking too cold and rigid.

2. Colour Palette

  • Modern

The modern design incorporates colour options in earthier tones such as brown, rust, olive green, turquoise, maroon, and so on. They complement the style’s earthy design elements to create a warm and inviting home interior.

  • Contemporary

For a more neutral and elegant appearance, a stricter palette of black, white, and grey is often preferred in contemporary interior design. However, other colours are also used to add vibrancy to the interior. These colours are typically pure, primary and secondary colours like red, orange, blue, or indigo.

Most homes in Singapore are designed in a contemporary design style but are often misidentified as the modern style. Now that you understand their differences, you can collaborate more effectively with your interior design company to create a home interior that speaks to you. 

Starry Homestead is an experienced interior design company in Singapore that creates interior spaces that are not only stylish and beautiful but also harmonious sanctuaries for fun, rest and play. See your dream home come to life today.