The History of Furniture: Modernism

Modernism was an artistic movement that started in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and is generally considered to have developed until the 1950s. Many artists of the time believed that the previous styles were outdated and didn’t meet the needs of the industrialized world. So the goal of modernism was to define a new aesthetic for the modern world. It touched all forms of art and design, including furniture.

20th Century Furniture Design - Modernism & The Bauhaus blog at Kaliuda Gallery Bali

20th Century Furniture Design – Modernism & The Bauhaus | Source:

Modernism Furniture

Modernist furniture became known for its sober character and undecorated elegance. With comfort and functionality often being the priority and ornaments being considered unnecessary. Also, the furniture pieces were conceived to be affordable and easy to mass-produce.

Modernist furniture decorating dates from decades ago. After almost 100 years, many of those designs still have that up-to-date look, as if they had just been designed yesterday. Many pieces of modernist furniture continue to be produced and sold today. Their elegance and mode make intending to define the new aesthetic in arts. Their vision was that furniture pieces should be affordable, functional, and highlight the simplicity of forms and materials. Two of those movements were the German Bauhaus and the Dutch De Stijl, which were both among the main influences of modernist design.


Modernist designers experimented with new materials. Furniture pieces were no longer made exclusively out of wood. Other materials such as steel, molded plywood, plastic came into use. Neutral colors were common, including chromed finishes for metals, black and white leather, and woods with natural finishes.

The peak of modernist design was in the 1920s and the 1930s, before World War II. After the war, modernism continued. But artists and designers gradually started to explore new and diverse possibilities in materials, colors, and shapes, thus starting the postmodernist furniture design.

“Modern” and “contemporary”, are very intriguing terms. Although these two terms are generally interchangeable and hold similar definitions in most walks of life. When it comes to furniture they are two completely separate entities.

Modern Interior Design blog at Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Modern Interior Design | Source:

Many people will assume that “modern” seating will have been designed within the last couple of decades or so. Whilst normally this may be a correct assumption to draw, it is not applicable everywhere. Furniture, art, and fashion define things a little differently.

Instead of defining simply “something new”, the arts refer to the term “modern” as being related to the Modernism movement. This came about at the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. This was a time where new and great minds were beginning to come to the forefront. A rapidly evolving world provided innovations in design.

By this stage, the played-out repetition of Victorian furniture was becoming tired. Newfound simplicity was being suggested and designs were completely overhauled. This even applied right down to the technology and designs used to create it.

Modern Furniture Design

The German Werkbund and Bauhaus schools greatly influenced modern furniture design. These schools were all about “making good design more accessible to the masses. In 1925 Marcel Breuer, a former cabinet maker and a member of the Bauhaus school designed one of the most iconic pieces of modern furniture called the Wassily Chair. It was named after the influential artist Wassily Kandinsky and was revolutionary for its use of polished tubular steel and leather straps with a minimal symmetrical design.

Asian and African design also had a big impact on modern furniture designers for a few reasons. For one, Japan changed its trade policy and isolationist approach to foreigners. Suddenly Japanese culture, art, and design were finding their way into Western culture. The zen-like elegance, beauty, and functional simplicity of Japanese furniture featuring solid colors and small ornaments inspire artists and designers Find the most iconic design created during the middle of the last century in Kaliuda Gallery Bali, serve to define not only the concept of modern furniture design but also other range of style and amazing furniture collection designs inspired by the past decades.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *