In the old days interior design was reserved for royalty. Those unlucky enough to be born in a lower class were generally concerned with feeding themselves and didn’t have nearly enough money to engage the services of professional designers. Therefore, they had to make do with the homes and furnishings that were most functional and easiest to make.
However in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in the afterglow of the enlightenment, with sparks of democracy slowly growing into roaring flames of freedom across the globe, the design world turned its eye to the needs of the common person. The design world had discovered the humble beauty of equality, and fell in love with it. Suddenly artists were less interested in catering to the whimsical fancies of the elite; instead they were looking to craft home furnishings that were functional, durable, and attractive to the average person. Thus, the age of contemporary design was born.
One of the major trends of the contemporary design movement was the idea that simple could be as beautiful as complex. Items which had received intricately worked details became unpopular next to sleek slender models which were termed more ‘sophisticated’. Rather than trying to cram more useless decorative features into a piece, they chose to maintain the most beautiful aspects, and leave out the rest. The result is a philosophy of design that flows in a smoother fashion.
This flow can be seen in the way the contemporary furnishings are designed to work seamlessly with the nature of the home. Rather than trying to ostentatiously stand out and impress, the best contemporary furniture will blend in, performing its function unobtrusively.
Another feature of early contemporary designs was a move towards an emulation of nature. Not only were furnishings crafted that mimicked the movement of trees, plants, and even animals, but natural materials were also incorporated back into the design mix. High quality hardwood, a variety of natural stones, wicker, straw, and wool were all major component materials of the revolution.
The art of the home is a personal vision expressed by ones surroundings. When designers made the change from concentrating on the elite, to focusing on the needs of the average person, they changed the way we live our lives forever. Suddenly the wasteful frivolities of royalty were replaced with the philosophical ideals of a brave new democratic world, one in which the comfort, enjoyment, and artistic vision of every person counts.