by: Kathryn Whittaker
Fashion trends no longer dictate the way we dress or decorate our homes. Eclecticism and contrasting style directions reign in home design. More and more people develop a taste of mixing contradictory furniture trends in their home decor, combining contemporary furniture with vintage finds and exotic art pieces.
Uncertain economy, the rise of natural disasters, persistent war conflicts and terrorist threats has resulted in the further insulation of people within their home cocoons. This cocoon lifestyle has given a boom to houseware and furniture industry, since more and more people turn to home entertainment and dinner parties instead of “going out.”
The “cocoon boom,” which originally started after September 11, 2001, transformed the modern home into a family sanctuary and hideaway. Casual living remains as the major theme with contemporary furniture today, with an emphasis on home entertaining and informal dining.
From modern furniture to accessories and dinnerware, people look for items that possess a strong sense of personal style. The casual living trend in modern furniture translates into multi-functional furniture with clear non-cluttered design and extended seating furniture pieces such as extra-long and curved couches and sofas.
Modern furniture today encourages family values, promotes quality family entertainment, supports traditional values and generally helps people connect. Another noticeable trend in home décor is a return to ‘formal’ for special occasions. People tend to make a greater effort preparing for special occasions or dinner parties and spend more time selecting dinnerware, candles, photo albums, seasonal decorations and table linen. Another important modern furniture trend is sensuality which means luscious fabrics, soft warm colors and simple shapes.
Many furniture items are adjusted for use for the targeted group of single men. This means sleek minimalist design and an emphasis on the use of multi-media applications. Flat screen TV’s are accommodated in hi-tech entertainment centers, and flat loudspeakers are incorporated into lean, spacious sofas, covered with dark trendy upholstery fabrics. This trend is also reflected in one-of-a-kind furniture items, such as art pieces having a functional meaning. Wide use of LED lighting technology helps transform a coffee table into a futuristic object that will change colors depending on a situation.
Speaking of materials used in modern furniture today, light woods still dominate. Oak, cherry, and birch are the most popular woods, with rattan and bamboo on the rise. Many woods are artificially stained to resemble exquisite tropical woods, for example, zebrano, mahogany, or palisander. A varnished solid front is often combined with a veneered body. Stainless steel, polished or brushed, and aluminum are used widely, often combined with innovative satin glass and boldly colored fiberglass.
In the upholstery, modern furniture designers favor refined large abstract patterns or sophisticated monochrome surfaces. Stripes and checks, as well as floral patterns are slightly out of fashion. The most popular materials are wool, cotton and leather, with wool felt gaining popularity.
The main characteristic feature of modern furniture is its understatement. Giorgio Armani, a couturier turned furniture designer says, that a subtle richness, not an obvious beauty, is most important in contemporary furniture design. Like a beautiful woman, furniture today reveals itself over time.