The Interesting Difference Between Modern & Contemporary Design

Modern and contemporary. These are words that are often used interchangeably to describe things relating to the present time; and anything that is new and uses the latest ideas and technology today.

They may be synonyms that share some common characteristics, but in terms of interior design and furniture, modern and contemporary are two different things.


Here’s the interesting difference between modern and contemporary design.


Modern & Contemporary: A Breakdown of Styles

Modern design points to the specific type of style that was built from the early to mid-twentieth century, at the peak of the modern art movement. The style is a precursor to contemporary design and focuses on simplicity, form, and function. You can think of it as a Scandinavian design that leans on the use of neutral palettes, streamlined silhouettes, and natural materials such as wood, leather, and stone. This is particularly evident in the furniture at home from beds, couches to dining tables and chairs. To put it simply, the modern design is distinct, defined and doesn’t change.

On the other hand, the contemporary design pertains to the style of today. Unlike the modern design, it’s not pinned down to a certain period because it’s fluid and reflects the trending style of the present. When this style gained attention in the 1970s, it borrowed elements from modernism, postmodernism, and Art Deco to name a few. It was defined by earthy palettes, clean lines, and minimalism—and yet, the style is always changing and we can only expect it to change as each decade passes.

Below are some other factors that draw the line between modern and contemporary.



Both modern and contemporary interior design features a substantial mix of natural materials including wood, stone, and leather. The only difference is that in contemporary design, you should also expect to see state-of-the-art materials such as glass and metals. Think of furniture with glass tops and metallic frames.


What’s more, even though both styles incorporate neutral colours, modern design leans toward a warmer, earthier palette and features hues like brown, turquoise, olive green, and rust. It’s in contrast to the more saturated tones used in contemporary design such as red, orange, yellow, indigo, and black.



On top of that, both modern and contemporary styles tend to favour minimalist spaces. However, a contemporary space can bend this rule by keeping a furniture item solely for its charm. Furthermore, while most of the furniture pieces in modern design favour straight and strong lines, contemporary furniture can be a little curvier and have an artistic flair.

As you’ve learned in this article, the terms modern and contemporary aren’t the same after all. But, the good news? Once you understand their differences, you’ll find it way easier to decorate your interior and decide on which furniture and other decorative elements to purchase for your home.

Ready to get started? Shop for furniture at Snow Globe today! Whether you’d prefer a modern space, contemporary space, or a combination of both, you can revamp your home with just a little updating on your furniture pieces.

Check out a wide range of living room, bedroom furniture, and dining furniture we offer in Singapore on our website.

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