What is Contemporary Interior Design?

Identifying the characteristics of contemporary interior design takes a keen eye for detail and deep understanding of the space — especially since this particular style draws on so many other design influences. Allow us to help demystify what makes an interior space considered “contemporary” by getting the full scoop below!

Contemporary Design Defined: What it is & Where it Comes From

By definition, the term “contemporary” means “of the moment.” This is why the contemporary interior design style is so hard to define. Dating back to the 1970s, this style is unique because it relies so heavily on other aesthetic influences. Within a contemporary space, one can easily see stylistic nods to modern, traditional, and art deco design. Because contemporary design is such a perfect blend of many different styles, it’s easily adaptable to the times, effortlessly evolving with the ever-changing nature of interior design trends.

Key Elements of Contemporary Interior Design

While contemporary interiors are chameleon-like in nature (meaning they change frequently and on-the-fly), there are a few key characteristics that make them easier to identify:

Contemporary Design Means Form & Function

Unlike with the Japandi style that places greater emphasis on function rather than form, contemporary interiors grant equal importance to each. When we talk about “form” in interior design, what we’re really talking about is shape: While Japandi interiors feature clean, almost boxy lines, contemporary designs feature compelling silhouettes and elegant curves. Additionally, edges and asymmetry are expected both in the interior architecture and furnishings included in contemporary spaces.

Muted Color Palette

As for the color scheme in contemporary interiors, designers typically choose muted, neutral palettes. Blacks, whites, tans, and grays comprise the majority of these interiors with either strategic splashes of colors or unexpected textures tastefully added into the mix for more visual interest.

Let Light Win

One of the key elements to any contemporary interior is that it must be well-lit. These spaces often feature a good mix of ambient (i.e. track or recessed lighting), accent (i.e. wall-mounted or picture lights), and task lighting (i.e. desk lamps or pendant lights). Ideally, one lighting option from each category should be represented in the design. Usually, contemporary light fixtures are made of metal and work to complement the curvy lines seen throughout the furniture.

Art & Accessories

Because contemporary interiors feature a versatile, neutral color palette, they often serve as the perfect environment for art collections to be placed on display. Designers often use art as accessories, or choose accessories as art pieces to take center stage in the rooms where they ultimately are placed. When choosing accessories for these interiors, one may lean towards items that have obvious Parisian or Roman influences. In fact, this principle applies to most of the fixtures and furnishings selected for contemporary spaces.

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