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posted: 7/29/2014 6:00 AM

What style of contemporary design are you dreaming of?

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  • Contemporary design encompasses many styles -- the common denominator is that it is a clean design that includes current trends.

      Contemporary design encompasses many styles -- the common denominator is that it is a clean design that includes current trends.

 
By Joseph Pubillones

I am always asked what exactly is contemporary design. Is it interiors that incorporate shiny chrome accents, black leather couches and spinning disco balls? Perhaps ... Is it an interior filled with abstract art? Maybe ...

When homeowners refer to contemporary design, often they are referring to a clean design that exhibits some of the current trends. What they don't realize is that contemporary design is a fluid design, a type of design that is ever changing. Contemporary design can be used to describe myriad design styles. The term is best used to describe the "design of our times." While a bit confusing as a descriptive term, it was coined at least four decades ago and still is being used by consumers and clients alike.

The term "contemporary" has been used since the early 19th century post-Industrial Revolution to describe design that is user-centered; however, the term entered our lexicon in the post-WWII years to describe current designs. Every design movement from art nouveau, De Stijl and Bauhaus to modern has used contemporary design to describe the design of their days.

Contemporary design today has many tendencies -- from sleek, cool, monochromatic and minimalist design schemes to brightly colored eclectic design schemes that juxtapose contrasting items of various time periods. In addition, today's contemporary design can be used to describe certain smart designs that use technology as a principal guiding force.

Today's more modern and contemporary design schemes are usually based on furniture that has clean and geometric lines. Man-made materials are accentuated with gloss and lacquered finishes and contrasted with textured surfaces and exotic woods. Colors range from espresso-finished woods to bright lacquered whites. Pure geometries are also a characteristic of this genre: Squares, rectangles and circles are all used for side tables, coffee tables and sofas and chairs.

Eclectic combinations are as varied in contemporary design as our world is wide. Retro mixes and global mixes are all the rage. Show off collections from your travels: ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan, masks from Africa and vintage Italian chairs next to a long sexy sectional combine to create yet another version of contemporary design. Almost anything goes in this design approach, as long as it feels curated -- meaning collected and carefully edited to give the illusion that it came together casually.

Finally, there are designs generated by technology. These are futuristic homes that have a computer at their heart. These computers control every aspect from the type and color of lighting to sensored shade screens that open and close as the temperature of a room changes, as well as the activation of all types of equipment. The tectonics of the house become evident in the materials used: recycled glass countertops that can be backlit, touch-sensor screens in every room that control almost everything, and fabrics that change color depending on body heat. This type of contemporary design is a bit "Jetsons."

As you can see, there are many interpretations of contemporary design.

• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla.

2014 Creators.com

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