You’re having drinks.
Someone mentions modernism.
You nod like you know what it means.
And hope the conversation moves on, quick!
You’re not the only one.
Ask 10 people to define modernism and I bet 9 couldn’t.
Even those who work in design.
And why should you care?
What’s the big deal?
Because modernism transformed our entire world.
From glittering skyscrapers to Tesla cars to your iPhone.
It’s biggest impact was on architecture and interiors.
Nothing in your home’s been left untouched by it.
Read on to find out what all the fuss is about, and discover some stunning modernist furniture.
If you love minimal design, modernism needs to be part of your vocab.
Modernism was a revolution.
A totally new approach to design that spanned the first half of the 20th Century.
Before modernism, design was built on tradition and evolved gradually. Although periods had distinct styles, like Art Nouveau and Neoclassical, they overlapped and merged.
Then suddenly, design took a radicle new direction. Tradition went out the window and the slate was wiped clean. Instead of referencing the past it was all about originality, innovation and the future.
Design became minimal, functional and simple.
This was modernism.
In the early 1900s there was a big shift towards efficiency.
Cutting excess and saving money.
Mass production. Making things affordable and available to all.
This change in philosophy along with new technology triggered the modernist revolution.
The first area to get a facelift was architecture.
Innovation in glass, steel and reinforced concrete opened a world of possibilities.
Buildings became abstract and minimal.
Decorative ornamentation was striped away.
These sleek buildings needed furnishing. So what started with architecture spread to the rest of design, and modernist furniture was born.
New materials and advances in manufacturing, unleashed an explosion of creativity. Blending art and technology, architects designed pioneering furniture using steel, glass, plywood and plastic.
Shocking at the time and totally outside the box to what had gone before.
For a deeper dive into modernism, here are the big influences.
These movements fuelled and shaped the revolution.
Emerging from Munich, they dreamed of a functional utopia. The idea that form follows function. How something works is more important than how it looks. They were the precursor to the Bauhaus.
This school broke down the walls between art and design. Everything from typography to tableware, performance art to architecture went into the melting pot. And out popped iconic designs. Get the full Bauhaus story
De Stijl - The Style - were all about abstraction. Reducing everything to the essentials - simple verticals and horizontals with primary colours, black and white. Think Mondrian.
When Japan started trading with the West, their design aesthetic swept across Europe. Striking simplicity, solid planes of colour, and no ornamentation. Discover more on Japanese design
History lesson over, let’s see how it transformed furniture.
Modernist furniture was
Traditionally furniture was decorative, the more the better. Ornamentation got swept away and everything became minimal.
Design became guided by function. Shape and size were based around the human body, not how they looked.
Everything was reduced to the simplest idea. The essence was to capture timeless beauty in spare precision.
Irregular shapes were gone. Geometry was in. Right angles, triangles and simple curves.
Dark carved wood and heavy fabrics gave way to light tubular steel and glass.
New manufacturing methods and materials were embraced. The idea was to make furniture that could be mass produced and available to everyone.
The modernist period ended 70 years ago, but it’s principles live on.
Design must function perfectly.
Ideas are distilled to their simplest form.
Minimalism is valued over fussy ornamentation.
Shapes are pure and geometric.
New technology and materials fuel creativity.
The goal is to step beyond what’s gone before.
Steve Jobs once said about Apple
Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.
This is the spirit of modernism.