Well…what does contemporay actually mean ? It refers to today, recent or present time. The word contemporary describes the latest style and designs. It became popular in the 1970’s and was originally a blend of styles. The style combined elements of modernism and postmodernism. The Art Deco style was often included in early contemporary design.
Modern does not mean recent . It has a particular style. Think of Mid Century Modern for example. The modern style started back during World War II when students of the Bauhaus school of design in Germany left the country and spread their designs across the world. The new emphasis was on minimal , simple and functional design. Modernism refers to a time when styles were moving away from traditional design.
The similarities: Both styles include simple, uncluttered spaces with smooth, clean lines. neither style uses ornate designs or heavy elements. In the recent past contemporay spaces tend to bend this rule. In both styles, sofas, chairs and ottomans have exposed legs, and both styles are known to use reflective surfaces like glass and metals.
How about the differences? Well, a Modern space will follow a strict style format while Contemporary has a lot of variations. Modern in its true form is not viewed as stark or cold. Some Contemporary interiors reflect a bold starkness. Modern colors tend to be naturals or neutrals- athough I have seen lots of color used in this stlye. Modern design favors strong lines while the Contemporary uses curves.
The above photo is an actual 1960’s home. Can you see some of the true features of the Modern style here? This photo, however, does not show exposed furniture legs, but has lots of straight lines.
The Mid Century Modern Post from 2/29/12 can be found in archives.