Contemporary Furniture

Contemporary FurnitureContemporary Furniture = Practical and Stylish

Contemporary furniture is that which reflects the zeitgeist, or ‘spirit of the times’. For the 21st Century western homeowner, contemporary furniture means two things: functionality and style. Globalisation and history, combined with advances in science and technology has brought us to a point where it seems that contemporary furniture design is limited only by our own imaginations. Never before have we had a greater range of colours, materials and construction techniques at our disposal, and the influence of all the traditions of the past and of every corner of the globe are there to inspire us.

The history and development of contemporary furniture
Regardless of personal tastes, furniture has to be capable of fulfilling its purpose; the definition of ‘furniture’ itself includes the effect of making a room suitable for living and working in. But that is only half the picture. Throughout time, cultures have taken the concept of furniture and adapted it to reflect the values of the time.

Before the private housing boom of the Tudor period, furniture (what little there was of it) was mainly functional in nature. Usually made of oak, it was basic in design and generally uncomfortable. From the sixteenth century onwards, foreign influence began to make itself felt during a period termed the ‘English Renaissance’, and the concept of furniture as an expression of style took hold. Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture was more decorative than what preceded it.

During the time of Oliver Cromwell, a more basic, functional style of furniture held sway for a time, before the arrival of the baroque period, which brought with it new and exotic woods such as walnut and mahogany. During the Georgian era, there appeared the first pattern and design books, including those by designers Chippendale and Hepplewhite. It was during this same period that the Queen Anne and Rococo styles flourished, marking the pinnacle of ornamental design.

Next came the more sober Greek neoclassical period, followed swiftly by classic Egyptian and Roman styles. The Victorians attempted to revive older styles and create new ones, the period culminating in the Arts & Crafts movement which reacted against the growing mass production of furniture.

Contemporary furniture of the 21st Century
Today, following the pioneering designs of the Bauhaus school, and the iconic work of designers from Isamu Noguchi to Eileen Gray, the focus in contemporary furniture design has shifted away from tradition in the direction of originality and invention. Today, contemporary furniture is designed to cater for the individual and his or her tastes, no matter how unusual they might be. With a seemingly endless choice of materials, colours and designers to select from, consumers are invited to explore themselves as they create their ideal living space. Contemporary furniture designers realise that in every home there is a place for formality and a place where creativity can take centre stage. As a result, some contemporary furniture is designed to be elegant, simple and functional, while other pieces focus on creativity and originality, featuring ingenious, sometimes bizarre design and striking use of pattern and colour.

Nevertheless, contemporary furniture displays a consistent character of its own. Pieces are generally lightweight in appearance, consisting of simple geometric shapes and often featuring polished metal, molded plywood and plasti