Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Contemporary Design 'a certain style'

When I thought about defining the differences between "What is Contemporary?" verses "What is Modern?" I could not give a clear answer. Maybe the term contemporary and modern are loosely used however they are one in the same? Which wouldn't make sense because why have two different words if they are truly not two different styles. So I began searching with my preconceived ideas trying to define the differences for myself. Is contemporary a style, a certain style with defined products or manufacturers? Is it about color only bright colors need to apply? Is it the combination of products made in bright colors? Then furniture came to mind and I questioned myself with 'what about the clean look, smooth surfaces with neat corners?' Maybe its the raw material used like glass, plastic, metal.

 J Design Group

What I discovered is it was not all bright colors, although this picture from the J Design Group has bright red walls paired with white and separated using gray trim. None of the furnishings used in this interior are bright colors. The sofa is white, as is the coffee table, and the area rug, although a noticeable design is drizzled in black. What is unusual about the space besides the artistic wall, is several pieces have neat, clean corners.  Unique too are the glass door and that flowering sculpture in the corner.

 Belsize Architects

A wonderful example of contemporary design is shown from the Belsize Architects. They do many projects however this particular one created to allow in natural light in the relatively small area accomplishes much. The square footage of the place I deem as an apartment or loft lets one enter and immediately feel the expanse of the room. Instead of feeling confined into a long rectangular main floor where width is challenged, they capitalized from the feelings of enclosure using height. Opening up the main level by use of steel beams gives a clear vision above. Two bedrooms sit up top with a slight curvature designed into the wall material. Glass panels are used for division and safety around the stairwell. This main floor entry offers a kitchen to your left a sitting room to the right. You may choose to go up into the bedrooms or down into the lower level.

Using slats for an exterior construction product has become increasingly popular in architecture.
This example using wooden slats here are fixed in place but allow natural light in without disturbing the existing brick.
Does the use of materials (concrete, glass, fabric, metal, wood, or plastic) make it contemporary? I'd say 'No', because all these products are used in other styles of homes.

When furniture came to mind and I questioned myself with 'what about the clean look, smooth surfaces with neat corners?' And 'Yes' furniture can be designed in a contemporary manner. They do have a clean smooth look about them. Notice this lounge above (Park Square Mews) with the hyde design material on a sleek metal base. Below the interior shows a red upholstered chair unusual in shape with a chunky bottom and thinner back.

 Belsize Architects
Glass ceiling skylights/Glass floor                                                        Bent wood furniture sculpture
I found more examples from the London Belsize Architects who are labeled the 'Best in Contemporary' designers, as they featured this single family home. They are not afraid to branch out of the typical like this wooden structure creating a useful entertainment center with plenty of storage. The design depicts a Piet Mondrian painting, more about him in another post. Here they combined both wooden doors concealing storage in the shapes for the totally functional entertainment center. So a functional entertainment center/storage area plus material used creatively allows this unique interior be called a contemporary design. Belsize architects also needed to allow light into the lower level of this project. The lower level is mentioned to have a great view of the garden and waterfall wall. However very little natural light would come in. To solve that problem they used a film coated glass for the ceiling as skylights yet in the upper level this is an actual glass floor to walk on. So clever.

Is contemporary a style, a certain style with defined products or manufacturers? A certain style 'YES' but not because of certain materials.
To answer all my questions of what makes for a contemporary design. I would sum it up by saying; Contemporary design is the unusual placement and/or use of objects that are not common to the products use or area in which it's used. Hope that helped you I know I have a much clearer understanding now.