Modern vs. Contemporary Interior Design_ The Difference and Similarities

Many people don’t know there’s a big difference between modern and contemporary design. They share some little similarity, but in general, they are worlds apart. It can be challenging to distinguish between the designs. Their main difference is that modern design refers to an era behind us, specifically the 1900s to 1960s. Contemporary design is not only about the current sytles but also the future. Without further ado, let’s see the main differences between these two popular designs.


Contrary to the definition of modern, Modern interior design is something else. Modern means present or recent times, but not the remote past. However, when it comes to modern design, it’s a period from the early to mid-twentieth century. The key figures of this design are Ie Corbusier, Florence Knoll, Charles, and Ray Eames.

Modern design has a focus on block colours as one of its primary characteristics. If you find a minimally decorated room with many industrial materials with primary hues, it’s designed to fit the modern style. Modern interior design is defined by its clean lines and simplicity. It includes concrete, steels, modern art, abstract lines, and intense primary colours.


Contemporary design, unlike modern, is not based on a specific period. It actually evolves and adapts itself as it absorbs presently popular styles. This design is calm, collected, and mature. Contemporary is all about clean lines and smooth surfaces. It’s minimal, rustic, eclectic, and coastal in pure taste.

Though ambiguous, there are ways we can define this design. Bare structures or exposed construction materials are a good sign that you are in a contemporary designed room. Other features of the design are lots of space and natural hues. Contemporary design is evolving. Therefore, it’s challenging to pinpoint its key figures. Some of the maestros include John Lawson, Fernando Mastrangelo, Lily Kwong, and Jorgen Hovelskov. To learn more about the differences of these designs, check out Tylko’s guide to modern and contemporary styles.

The Similarities

One thing about both designs is that you can blend them to your signature look because they have three general elements that they share. The esthetics are minimalist. They both have clean architectural lines and feature an open space feel.

Furniture such as sofas, chairs, and ottomans have exposed legs. Both styles also tend to feature reflective surfaces such as glass or metals. These designs are all about clean and straight lines, not small and cute. Because of these similarities, people struggle to differentiate between the two designs. The Tylko’s guide clearly demonstrates the modern and contemporary designs.