What to Look for in Contemporary Style

True contemporary design is all about the lines, whether they are organic or geometric, and more often than not the color is solid.

Contemporary Organic Chair - MattandShari.comSo, in stark contrast to traditional is contemporary style.  Where traditional styles have been around for hundreds of years, contemporary furnishings have only been around since about the 1940’s. Many see the correlation between the birth of modern furniture design and the 1940 “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition put on by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Two men, architects and designers, Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen got together and designed one of the most impactful chair designs probably in the history of furniture design – the organic chair. And basically contemporary design was born!

Charles Eames Contemporary Chair - MattandShari.com

Here’s probably the most well known chair by Charles Eames…

Eero Saarinen Contemporary Chair - MattandShari.com… and then one by Eero Saarinen.

So you see, contemporary style is all about organic and geometric lines and shapes.  Some feel that the contemporary style is a bit cold and uninviting, but for those of you who prefer less clutter and a minimalist approach to décor, contemporary style is perfect for you.  I like to think of it as simple, clean and calm.  Yet what is interesting about that description is that as a result of  its simplicity, it can become dramatic as well because each piece stands out and becomes a piece of art almost in itself.

Contemporary Style Occasional Chair - MattandShari.com

So, let’s look at our contemporary chair.  Very clean lines – basic rectangles put together to create a seat, back and arms.  Contemporary upholstery is most often done in neutral colors and natural fabrics such as wool, linen, cotton and silk.

Contemporary Patterned Area Rug - MattandShari.com

We’ll pair this with an organic design area rug, also in neutral tones and about as different as you can get from a traditional design rug!

Colorful Contemporary Pillows - MattandShari.com

Then, toss a couple of bold colored pillows on that neutral chair to bring in a punch of color.  The pillows, like I mentioned earlier are like art themselves.

Contemporary Style Mirror - MattandShari.com

On the wall, the contemporary mirror uses geometric shapes, circles to create a circular frame and it’s finished in a glowing brushed brass.

Contemporary Floor Lamp - MattandShari.com

Then this very linear floor lamp with rounded rectangular shades finishes the contemporary look.

As you can see, much is done in neutral but then the accents are bold a bright.

Contemporary Style Living Room - MattandShari.com

In the contemporary room photo you again see the neutrals, black and white with a bright green orb for a lamp in the corner.  Windows are often bare and accessories are few.

To keep this style from becoming too stark and cold, texture is a key ingredient and you can find it in area rugs, carpets and fabrics.

So, basically, with contemporary style (and I know you’ve heard this before) “less is more”!


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