Azara Bedroom Collection, 100% Bamboo

At first glance, “modern” and “contemporary” seem to be synonyms. They both describe “the now”: modern is defined as “relating to the present or recent times,” while contemporary means “belonging to or occurring in the present.” However, when it comes to furniture, modern and contemporary styles share some traits but are distinct.

Whether you’re shopping for furniture or art from the Copenhagen collection, we’d like to help you understand the difference between these two types of style.

Bubble Pendant by George Nelson; Morten Armchair by John Mortensen; Scandic Table by Benny Linden

Modern Design

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that “modern design” is not so modern anymore. That’s because modern design actually describes a specific period of time. Modern design took place in the mid-20th century and was heavily influenced by German Bauhaus design. After the modern period, there was mid-century modern, which was popular in the 50s and 60s. Danish Modern furniture, famous for its widespread use of teak wood, rose to the forefront during this time.

Eames Chair and Ottoman, designed in 1956 by Charles and Ray Eames.

When it comes to modern design style, two main attributes come to mind: minimalism and natural color. Oftentimes, minimalism is confused with stark, cold colors. In modern design, though, colors tend to be warm and natural. Combined with straight lines, modern design is clean and colorful, sometimes playfully reserved.

Modern design also employs interesting materials. Modern pieces often are made from wood or wood veneers, as well as leather. Beyond natural elements, however, modern décor also features reflective surfaces, like stainless steel, chrome or glass.

Retro-Inspired Swing Bar with Mirrored Panels

Contemporary Design

On the other hand, contemporary design does not have a defined time period. Contemporary is the design of today and changes all the time. For the purpose of defining the style, contemporary as we know it in 2018 borrows elements from modern design, minimalism, and global influences.

Magic Chair and Ottoman by Ekornes® Stressless of Norway

Because contemporary style is constantly in flux, it is impossible to completely describe the style; however, this also means that if you want a contemporary-styled living space, you can take some creative liberties. Currently, contemporary design is about brightness, open spaces, and incorporating elements from outdoor landscapes to bring a natural harmony to a space.

Contemporary Living Space by the Copenhagen Interior Design Team

Stark color contrasts are also popular in contemporary design currently. Black and white are often contrasted and create dramatic effects. This is often tempered by green elements, like plants or strategically placed colors.

Whether you’re looking for a classic, modern design look or a contemporary space, Copenhagen can help you find the exact piece of furniture you need. We offer a wide variety of pieces, from distinctively modern to contemporary furniture that will define your living room, office, and beyond.

If you live in Arizona and are looking to learn more about mid-century modern design, check out our Max Gottschalk exhibition during Tucson Modernism Week, hosted in partnership with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation – a nonprofit that dedicates itself to the protection and preservation of the city of Tucson’s modern culture. The exhibit showcases antique furniture by Tucson-based industrial designer Max Gottschalk and runs from October 6th – 14th.  The opening party at Copenhagen takes place on October 11th from 6 – 8 PM in celebration of Tucson’s mid-century modern history and culture. Learn more here!

About Copenhagen Imports

Bringing a Passion for Modern Scandinavian Design to the Southwest.

In April 1970, the first Copenhagen Imports opened in Phoenix, Arizona, bringing a still-developing city its first furniture showroom dedicated solely to Danish Modern style. Founders Tony Christensen and Erik Hansen made the decision to move to Phoenix based on their passion for good design and their desire to have a positive impact upon the desert Southwest by bringing a new type of design to the valley.

At the time, local furniture-store owners in the Phoenix area scoffed at the two Danes’ design ideas and concepts, saying “That stuff will never sell. Six months and they’re out!” Quite the contrary—that “stuff” did sell! It sold so well, in fact, that shortly after, Hansen and Christensen opened additional stores in Tempe, Tucson, and Scottsdale. Continued growth moved Copenhagen into Texas, with stores first opening in El Paso, San Antonio, and, soon after, Austin.

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