What Makes Certain Furniture “Modern”?

March 30th, 2018 Blog, General

For as long as people have had homes and hovels, they’ve had furniture as well – from the pre-historical tree-stump seats all the way up to last year’s line of Woodcraft furniture. And, sure, it can be easy to tell the difference between a tree-stump and handcrafted chair, but where it loses some people are the finer distinctions: what is Baroque, Rococo, Gothic or Victorian? And what exactly do we refer to when we say something is “modern”? Is that just any furniture that’s been made contemporarily, or are there other defining features? Well, the short answer is, yes, there are defining features that apply to “modern” furniture, tracing a lineage back to art deco, through post-WW2 mid century and up to the present.

A lot of the time, when people talk about modern furniture they employ the term “mid-century” with it, to describe the period in which these clean-lined, minimal and natural designs started to become popular. Another descriptor you might hear in the same breath as modern is “Scandinavian”, or, more specifically, “Danish”, referring to the Nordic countries where a lot of these minimalist pieces were designed. Often, people will speak about modern furniture – like some of the beautiful bedroom sets and tables we offer – in contrast to traditional furniture, which is often more ornate and bulkier, with noticeable trim (more on that below). One is absolutely not better than the other, but rather just two different style aesthetics that each has its own merits.

Modern furniture, as we mentioned, is characterized by minimalist design, simple lines and a focus on functionality. They are often lighter than their traditional counterparts and take up less visual space, meaning the room in which they’re displayed will feel more open. Modern might also refer to the materials used, and the ways in which those materials are handled. Take, for instance, our “live edge” furniture – a modern technique (albeit one that evokes a very old style) that leaves the raw grain of the wood’s edge intact, allowing it to remain connected to its source. Allowing the natural “imperfections” of the material shine through would be considered a very modern thing to do. Or, take “reclaimed wood”, which reuses wood salvaged from other purposes to make and discover one of a kind reclaimed wood tables and coffee tables, another modern technique.

For sake of visualization, let’s look at a few examples. For tables, check out our Queen West Dining Table, Boulevard Table and Loft Table for just a few examples of the modern style. For an example of how the modern style applies to sideboards, take a look at our Brooklyn Sideboard, Sterling Sideboard or Crescent Sideboard, each unique in its own right, but each displaying tenets like minimalism and clean design. For contrast, a great example of a more tradition style – in this case a buffet hutch – would be our Downton Four Door Buffet and Hutch, which exhibits a 19th Century style elegance in its decorative moulding and bun feet. Again, it really all boils down to what kind of furniture you gravitate towards, what kind of space you’re dealing with and what kind of other art and decorations will accompany the furniture.

At Woodcraft, we enjoy all types of furniture, from the tradition to the modern, and even more contemporary styles. We encourage you to peruse our site and see what pops out at you – maybe you thought you were a traditional type of person, when in fact you like the modern stuff better, or vice versa. It’s all up to you. Trends may come and go, but the one thing that has remained constant in all good furniture is the craftsperson’s knowledge and dedication, as well as stellar solid wood materials.