Post-Modern design is rooted in minimalism and organization. It focuses on:
- Highlighting and accentuating the use of clean straight lines in furniture and architecture
- Simple shapes
- Minimal decoration
- High function
- The juxtaposition and contrast of design elements
The resulting look is sleek, fresh and contemporary. And although it may appear sterile and uninhabitable, it is completely functional and practical. Every component of this design style has its place and each component functions to contribute to the overall look and feel of the space. It is the perfect design aesthetic for today’s urban loft and condo spaces due to its ability to visually open up small spaces by making them appear larger than they truly are and by ensuring that every inch of space is utilized.
A Brief History
The post-modern design aesthetic resulted from global art and design trends that followed WWII, in which focus was given to form and function and the “less is more” mindset flourished. In the 1950s, we saw sleek silhouettes in design and furniture, striking geometric and organic shapes and bold colours used in home decor.
Innovations in new materials such as chrome, PVC and plastic paved the way for the design and production of more simple and modern furniture to compliment modern designed spaces. Breakthroughs in modern furniture design directly influenced and helped to shape and define the modern design style.
- Eero Aarnio’s infamous ball chair (a hollowed out sphere housing a chair)
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair and table (leather cushions on top of a delicate chrome frame and matching glass table top on a chrome base)
- Marcel Lajos Breuer’s Wassily chair (bent tubular steel chair)
- Visionary modern interior designer Phillipe Starck’s Louis Ghost Armchair (transparent plastic chair reminiscent of the French monarch)
- Karim Rachid’s “Oh Chair” (polypropelene molded chair)
How to Get the Look
The post-modern design colour palette is primarily cool and neutral and it is comprised of whites, creams and dark and rich shades of brown, taupe and mauve. This neutral colour palette functions to open up a space and to make the space feel larger, as well as to provide a backdrop for more boldly coloured items and ornaments. Black may be used to help ground and define a modern room. Pastels can be accented by neutral coloured trims and boldly coloured walls may be accentuated with neutral adornments and furniture. Interest can be invigorated into a space by introducing a colourful painting or a brilliantly coloured piece of furniture such as a chair or sofa. Modern design embraces the subtlety of bold colour. Colour can be added with cushions, ornaments, rugs, throws, lamps, art and curtains. The goal is to maintain clean lines and to draw the eye to the coloured object.
The most common components of the modern design look are:
- Stainless steel
- Cool tile
- Hardwood flooring
Hardwood, tiled, or concrete flooring is easier to maintain and clean than wall to wall carpeting and it helps to open up the space by maintaining the clean lines of the walls and the room. The hardness and coolness of these industrial elements can be softened and warmed up by introducing coloured rugs, faux fur furnishings (cushions, rugs, wall hangings), velvet upholstered furniture or curtains made of silk or satin. Juxtaposition is the rule of thumb for modern interiors and opposing elements (concrete and faux fur, bold and neutral colours, etc.) function to accentuate and compliment each other.
Loft spaces, high ceilings, bare windows and rooms with interesting architectural lines are perfect for the modern design look as the lines of the room play off of each other and furniture and art stand out. Exposed air ducts, pipes, rough textured concrete and brick are completely acceptable and contribute to the contemporary look. The resulting contrasting texture creates visual interest and balances the overall feel of the space.
- Incorporate materials such as stone, metal, and glass into the space
- Look for neutral timeless pieces. Simple and minimal furniture usually in deep and dark tones of brown or black imbue richness and simple elegance into any space and these pieces may easily be livened up by introducing a brightly coloured cushion or a textured throw
- Look for low-back sectional sofas and chairs and tables with clean straight lines
- Sliding panels made of synthetic fabrics, blinds and other hard treatments or no treatment at all are common modern design window treatments
- If artwork is incorporated into the space then it must be bold and modern. The artwork should be the focal point of the room with the remainder of the room constructed around the artwork. Highlight art by directing a light at the piece so that the eye is instantly drawn to it
- Use animal prints (zebra, leopard, cow, etc.) and textured rugs to soften the look and provide contrast to leather sofas and hardwood or concrete floors
- Choose simple and interesting metallic light fixtures and install track lighting or recessed lighting. Lamps are usually made of shiny materials and have a futuristic look about them
- Choose plants with large and interesting leaves and blooms and place them in simple containers
- Choose metal, black or natural wood framing for pictures and artwork and hang multiple pictures in a close-knit grouping for a grand look and feel
- Keep the space organized and clutter-free and follow the “less is more” design philosophy. A few key colourful ornamental pieces introduced into the space will have more of an impact and function better to compliment the clean lines of the modern space