Modernism was an artistic movement like no other, rejecting embellishment and the traditional styles that preceded it. It was a counter-culture, a backlash against the old, obsolete art of the past – especially forms like impressionism and renaissance painting.
However, modernism extended way beyond ‘classic’ forms of art like painting and literature and was taken up by architects and interior designers. One of the most famous modernist architects, Le Corbusier, championed creating spaces and furniture that valued function over form. His ethos was best summed up by the phrase: “A house is a machine for living in.”
Modernism in interior design
For architects and interior designers, modernism means ridding your designs of too much ornamentation and using modern materials that offer design advantages. Under a modernist designer, furniture and spaces should serve a function first and foremost.
For example, the ‘Wassily chair’ was one of the first iconic pieces of furniture produced by modernist architects. It was made of tubular steel, a technology that only saw use in the 1900’s. By being lightweight, foldable and with no over ornamentation, it became a classic of modernist design. It was also able to be mass produced, another sign of modernity when the chair was compared to traditional handcrafted, upholstered seating.
In your home, modernism can take many forms. Rejecting overly embellished designs and opting for simplistic items that serve their purpose means your house becomes a more efficient, less distracting space.
How to use modernism in your home
Modernism is based on efficiency and minimalism. Each room in your house should have a defined purpose, which the furniture and design should complement. For example, your bedroom is a place for sleeping and getting dressed – so the most important elements are a good bed and storage space.
The most efficient storage spaces are those that make best use of the room and don’t distract attention or get in the way. This means that under-bed storage and sliding wardrobes are great ideas from a modernist point of view. Conversely, a four-poster bed would be the exact opposite of modernism, as a bed’s purpose is for sleeping, so should have few decorations and instead focus on a comfortable base and headboard.
Keep modernism in mind with these simple tips:
- Get rid of over ornamentation – lighting should provide lighting. Chairs are for sitting comfortably. If something doesn’t contribute to a room’s value, don’t add it.
- Use items built from modern materials such as aluminium, tubular steel and plastic.
- Keep colours neutral with blacks, whites and ‘cooler’ hues.
- Don’t hide structural elements like exposed brick or pipework in order to break up a room.
- Soften things up with simple rugs and pillows – avoid overly decorated products.
Remember: modernism was a movement based on rejection and renewal – but nowadays we can borrow items and ideas from the movement and style without having to get rid of beautiful, traditional art forms too. The key is to balance both function AND form. Take a look at our beautiful, minimalist sliding doors to see how we mix a simple, aesthetically pleasing style with an unobtrusive storage function.