Here we go…

October 7, 2009

Modern Classics vs Trendy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ashley Hawthorne @ 2:35 pm

This is one of those posts that will be especially interesting to design nerds 🙂  There is alot of talk these days about “modern” furniture, “trendy” furniture and “contemporary” furniture.  I thought I’d take a minute and break down what that really means.  There are alot of misconceptions out there and now we can all move forward in our decorating and designing (distinguishing b/t the two of those can be for anothe day!) adventures with a better grasp on what all of this means.

Modern– This really is an actual era of design.  It started around 1946 and has continued until today.  There are tons of furniture designers who fall into this category, and there are a few who have designed pieces that are considered “Modern Classics.”  The previous eras had focused alot on adornement, guilded finishes, ornate fabrics and carvings, and were basically “OTT” (over the top.  haha).  Designers of this began to push the envelope with form and this eventually became abstraction.  You can see this in all design fields- architecture, furniture, interiors, art, etc.  Think the really impressionistic paintings of Claude Monet vs Picasso’s expression through shapes and lines.  You may also come across the term “Mid-Century Modern” and that is really that 50’s-70’s time of design.

If you are considering making an “investment purchase” in furniture, old items are better than new.  I’d say spending $4000 on an antique armoir is smarter than spending $2500 at Pottery Barn.  Dont get me wrong- i love Pottery Barn!  If we are thinking of “investments”, however, old furniture can be sold for even more than you pay for it as time goes by.  It is sort of in the world of a diamond.

Trendy– this is keeping up with the latest fads.  This is not a bad thing.  It is just a different way of thinking of design.  Blue is a perfect example of this… blue from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s are really easy to pick out – that dusty 70’s blue vs the electric of the 80’s vs the 90’s navy!  Trendy is the opposite of timeless.

Knowing this is helpful when shopping for furniture.  We tend to immediately put “modern” or “contemporary” furniture in the category of being trendy and out of style in a few years, but it really is not the case if you are smart about your purchases!  People pay TONS online (ebay, for instance) for modern pieces.  The re-sale value is often better than the investment.  Look back at some of the classic pieces from the Mid-Century if you want to make a purchase that will not go out of style.  Here are some examples…

Classic Chairs



  1. Ashley! I’m just now discovering Ranch Dressings! I love keeping up with the house progress! I’m also learning a lot. Thanks for letting us follow.

    Comment by Erin Unglesby — October 7, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  2. For the record, if it was possible for me to be more over the Barcelona chair … I would have to be hovering. Maybe it was my time in London, but I feel like it’s in every corporate, medical or media office I’ve ever been in. It is totally that song that I’ve heard 1000 times, liked at first, and now cannot STAND. I feel as though every designer in the cities I’ve lived in finished their rooms, took a step back, and thought, “Hmmm … but there is no BARCELONA chair” and threw one in.

    If you can’t tell, I am no longer a fan.

    Comment by Katherine — October 9, 2009 @ 5:43 am

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