The Modern-Eclectic Style Genre

In this case, liberties are taken with the addition of traditional African motifs and patterns on throw cushions and accent rug. The artwork can be considered to be traditional, too. Image by Home Designing.

Of the five style genres discussed on this blog, Modern Eclectic is home to styles that are mostly modern, but take some (graceful) liberties with the concept.

1. Asian Zen Style

Asian Zen Style is a mostly unadorned and minimalistic type of style, making it a strong contender for modern even when it is in line with Oriental design of a strong traditional nature.

Asian Zen categorization could easily reversed from modern to the opposing mid-range category of the modern-traditional spectrum: that of the eclectic-traditional genre.

One argument for a traditional placement would be that it has a fair bit of traditional Asian flavor. To the untrained eye, it looks completely and quintessentially, Oriental.

However, most of the examples I find of this style actually tend to be fairly modern interpretations of what is sometimes a combination of traditional far eastern styles. It is also worth noting that new constructions of this nature include incredibly modern construction materials and fittings.

Asian Zen (no doubt a western label for Asian-esque design!) interiors are generally not slavish reproductions of traditional design; they are better understood as a modern homage to Asian design principles.

My final (and possibly controversial) point on this style is that I find traditional Japanese design thinking to be way ahead of its time, putting its minimalist traits comfortably within what can be considered modern parameters.

Japanese design was therefore often stylistically ‘modern’ (simplicity of form, minimalism, use of right angles, etc.) long before the modern movement which we read about in architectural history.

So, rock on, Japanese design!

2. Ethnic Modern Style

Ethic modern takes everything that’s good about modern design and then adds the perfect mix of minimalistic patterns and strong abstract type art, which also, nonetheless, harks back to a deeper traditional influence, this time African.

In Ethnic Modern Style we see strong cultural clues similar to the ethnic and cultural influence evidenced in Asian Zen style. We are also struck at the same time how well the ethnic motifs and characteristics fit into an otherwise very starkly modern interior.

Because African, (as well as a lot of Aboriginal and First Nation!), art embraces symbolism and relatively simplistic forms, many ethnic design elements fit in incredibly well with modern architecture.

Abstraction in art is considered a more modern idea, as art reverted to abstraction after a very long tour of classicism. Perhaps we forget that abstraction was always there just under the surface, only that it was less apparent in the European tradition for a good portion of artistic history.

Another interesting things to note here is that geometric type patterns tend to read as more modern, even when they are ancient in origin, as is evidenced by the Greek Key motif, a mainstay in modern coastal and early 2000s decorating.

Something about simplicity is timeless, isn’t it?

3. Industrial Style

Industrial design has a strong connection to vintage, yet modern industrial buildings. Former factories converted to residences and commercial spaces continue to inspire this look. Industrial design style is a direct result of the first industrial movement, which saw design for the average home become more mainstream.

Ah, Industrial style. The wildly popular style that was, at first, created from necessity. Obsolete factory buildings needed repurposing, and industrial style took the best of the heavy look associated with heavy industry and made it cool.

Born of the wickedly clever mother of invention, industrial style has since produced a galaxy of striking interiors in countries around the world. It is a look which can be hard to get enough of, at least for me and others who appreciate Brutalism on some level.

If you don’t quite ‘get’ the power that simple concrete, steel and brick architecture has to frame a natural view, check out this wine estate in Cape Town. Visiting there almost took my breath away.

Although I would argue that more examples of this style can be found in commercial and public interiors than private homes, it is also true that the public coming to embrace what could be considered a rather brutish style was born of this exposure.

If public buildings showcase the full effects of this utilitarian and sometimes fantastical style, residential furniture icons like Restoration Hardware bring it home. Literally. This style is loved by hipsters, creatives and steam punk enthusiasts, making it vintage yet oddly futuristic.

It is also widely adapted to other styles, like modern farmhouse and chalet style.

Who doesn’t love a good industrial building?

This style is pretty much modernism for skeptics.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my modern-eclectic interior design style boards.

If you want to know more about style genres or would like to see a few of my pure modern boards, go here.

The next installment in this series, “The Big Five Style Genre” is follows below:

Happy style hunting and happy designing!


Designer, writer & educator living in East Asia since 2001

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