The Pure Modern Style Genre

An apartment with mid-century modern furniture is always tasteful and classic in a modern sense. Image by Unsplash.

Of the five style genres discussed on this blog, Pure Modern interior design style is all about styles that are one hundred percent modern.

Beginning with the early Art Deco and Moderne styles which sprang from the Art Nouveau movement in the very early twentieth century, these styles managed to maintain a level of intricacy and artistic flair, but in a way never seen before this time.

1. Art Deco

Art Deco style was both restrained and artfully bold. Abstract art and geometric forms inspired from early civilizations such as Egyptian are important to the style. Streamline Moderne embraced curves and took more than a few aviation era style cues.

Probably the most important thing to know about the advent of modernism is that it hailed a new way of thinking, leveraged heavily by the adoption of newer methods of construction which introduced new types of buildings. 

Steel frame and concrete construction and larger windows are just some of the major changes seen in buildings of the modern era.

Skyscrapers became possible, and the first ever was built in New York.

In the Art Deco style gothic stained glass work was also given an update. Craftsmanship was at an all time high in this era of style.

The modern Arts and Crafts movement sought simplicity, as did Frank Lloyd Wright, an American founder of modern architecture, who was heavily influenced by Japanese design. 

There was a move away from the stuffy, cramped and overly decorated Victorian homes with their tiny rooms and closets, toward more open plan and light-filled interiors.

The American Prairie style homes designed by Wright are an American icon and still emulated in residential architecture today.

2. Mid-Century Modern

Mid century modern is possibly the most loved modern style

The mid-twentieth century also saw the rise of Scandinavian furniture design in the fifties and sixties.  It was a time when many influential architects were creating their own furniture based on the idea of form following function. 

Natural materials, curved lines and graceful silhouettes with sometimes playful characteristics have kept mid-century modern style a part of our lives well into the new millennium.  Mid-century modern antiques are in high demand, and “new” mid century modern inspired styles continue to inspire furniture makers every day.

The end of the twentieth century saw a move to minimalism, which was most prevalent in the nineties, as a rebellion against the excesses of the eighties.

3. Contemporary

Contemporary means “of the now”. Styles of our current age tend to be light, bright and bring a fair bit of textural interest as well as greenery and artwork into the picture.

Since the turn of the twenty-first century into the new millennium style seems to only continue to refine itself. New contemporary styles continue to amaze us as we head into the 202Os.  Minimalism has softened and warmed up a fair bit and there are new takes on the sleeker looks with organic modern and contemporary styles looking to bring nature further indoors.

Design is becoming more curated, and customers and designers look for ways to bring Biophilic design front and center stage.

After all, the health of our planets and ourselves depends upon it.

Would you describe yourself as a “pure” modernist?

Which of the style boards depicted here most resonate with you?

Look forward to our up and coming design style profile series where we will be getting into further detail on each of the thirty major styles, with tips on color palettes, materials, furniture and some basic dos and don’ts.

Happy designing!

Read the next installment in this series “The Big Five Style Genres” here:


Designer, writer & educator living in East Asia since 2001

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