What is Modern Furniture?

January 30, 2014
What is Modern Furniture?

Modern living room design

Modern furniture is furniture produced from the late 19th century on wards, under the influence of the Modernist movement. It is distinctive and highly prized- and very collectible.

Modern Style & Design

When this furniture was first produced, it was a shock to furniture fans. It was a big departure from more traditional furniture forms- now Antique forms- that used heavy, dark wood and ornate carving. African and Asian design influences crept in and were merged with the European furniture traditions.

The designers of the Classic Modernist movement used new materials- steel, molded plywood and even plastic to create furniture that was dramatically different. A chair suddenly mimicked the curves of the human body. A coffee table might now have one elegant curving central leg rather than the traditional four legs. A dining table might now be made from glass with a mirror-like chrome frame. A couch or sofa was suddenly angular, and covered in leather.

These radical changes heralded an entirely new period of design that still appears fresh and bold today.

Reproductions and Originals

Today, the majority of Modern furniture pieces on the market are reproductions. These can be very close to the originals and can be hard to spot. The major difference here is price. You’ll easily figure out if what you’re being offered is genuine- if it sounds too good to be too, it probably is.

Despite that if you’re comfortable with a reproduction and the originals are out of your reach- and you’re comfortable with the ethics of purchasing a knock-off design- you can always fake it til you make it! Otherwise you might want to start with purchasing low-end originals, or smaller fixtures like a lamp or clock, while you save up for that original Barcelona Chair.

Materials and Styles

Modern furniture often uses steel, leather, molded plywood and plastic. These pieces tend to be low maintenance as long as they are treated carefully, which may mean some initial restoration, depending on the condition of the piece.

The clean look of the Modern home means that storage- and discreet storage- was a priority. Pieces also were often built to be multi-purpose, for example the Eileen Grey side table, that would adjust to serve breakfast in bed.

Looking for a Modern Style for your home? Take the guesswork out of buying, check out our Furniture Buying Guides. At House of Home/s Blog we've got the best tips on how to find the best Modern furniture.

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