Hire an architect to design a contemporary home and you are likely to end up with something unique and not linked to any particular design period. Such is the nature of contemporary home design. Contemporary design is contemporary to the time in which it is conceived. If you are not sure what that means, you can take a virtual tour of mid-century modern contemporary compliments of the Modern Architecture + Design Society (MADS).
It’s unclear how often the Society offers virtual tours, but they seem to be an ongoing enterprise. Tours feature mid-century modern construction in cities around the country. Their most recent spring tour featured homes in Colorado, California, and elsewhere. What do they all have in common? Mid-century modern design.
The interesting thing is that it might be difficult for the untrained eye to spot the difference between mid-century modern and what is considered contemporary design in 2021. Some of what was considered modern back in the 1950s and 60s is en vogue once again, blurring the lines between today’s trends and what people were really looking for some 70 years ago.
A Style All Its Own
Whether you call it modern or contemporary design, this type of architecture has a unique style all its own. What makes it unique is its ‘in the moment’ nature. A recent blog post published by Sparano + Mooney, a contemporary and mountain modern design firm of Park City, Utah, defines it this way:
“True contemporary design does not look too heavily to the past. Nor does it attempt to create an image of the future. It is here. It is now. Contemporary design is what people envision in the very times in which they live.”
Sparano + Mooney refers to contemporary design as ‘period-agnostic’, which is to say that it is in the moment rather than looking too much to the past or too far into the future. Being in the here and now dictates that contemporary design is constantly in a state of evolution.
High Ceilings and Open Floor Plans
One more thing to consider is that contemporary home design is largely consumer driven rather than architecturally determined. Architects are influenced by their own inspirations and design preferences, but they ultimately design what their clients want. That makes client inspiration equally important.
There are two characteristics to mid-century modern that demonstrate this point very well. They are high ceilings and open floor plans. More than one home being featured in the spring virtual tour exhibits the two characteristics. But guess what? Both high ceilings and open floor plans are hallmarks of contemporary design in the 21st century as well.
Does this mean that modern contemporary leans too heavily on mid-century modern? No. It only means that now, in the moment, consumers looking to build modern contemporary homes are asking for the two elements. Architects are happily honoring those preferences.
Hard to Peg a Date
Unless you are a trained architect who knows exactly what to look for, you would probably have a challenging time viewing a piece of contemporary architecture and pegging it to a certain date or era. This is the point. A modern contemporary home is designed according to what is most interesting at that moment in time. Moreover, the modern design mindset can be integrated with other forms of architecture to create even more unique structures.
Mountain modern design is a good example. If you want to see some beautiful mountain modern homes, check out Sparano + Mooney’s portfolio. And of course, consider taking the next MADS virtual tour when it comes up. You will see just how timeless contemporary design is.