As the late 19th century unfolded into the 20th, there was an air of rebellion in the air. A new generation was embracing what is now known as the Industrial Revolution. This revolution transformed the way the world designed, manufactured and lived. As mass production slowly became the norm, the ability to really use new materials and machinery changed how furniture, among many other items, was designed. Modernism at its best reflected the mood of the early 1900s.
To design furniture was becoming an art form, as the Baroque influences from the Renaissance period gave way to Neo-classicism which focused on the classic era of Ancient Greece or Rome. Then the furniture and art world moved into Romanticism, Impressionism and Expressionist era where modernism really began to have its influence on the Art Deco or Art Nouveau world.
In was in the early 1920s that the great Bauhaus School of Design in Germany began creating modern designers that eventually went around the world, influencing design furniture. Modernism embraced all that was new and different as the younger generation rebelled against what they felt were outdated design ideas for a modern world that could finally make anything. Some of the world’s most famous artists came from the modernist movement—Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollack.
Modernism evolved simultaneously as the automobile expanded, manufacturing became the norm and the telephone and telegraph changed communication forever. As a society, Americans and Europeans were learning to live in a very different world, and the art and furniture design reflected that.
By looking to a new way of design, and rejecting old patterns and old ways of creating, furniture designers could provide modern furniture stores such as those in New York with miraculously created new modern furniture. Using new materials and new ways of designing modern furniture, not just out of wood, but using plastic, metal, fiberglass and other modern materials to create the a sofa or chair that can be manufactured. There are timeless pieces that were created during this era that are still used in modern furniture design today.
What must have seemed oppressive as large, ornate, heavy looking wooden furniture was changed as modern furniture designers transformed furniture design. The new materials, in particular metals and fiberglass and fabric made the furniture much lighter to carry, lighter to look at and were more efficient to make. A focus on form and function was heavy as a new generation embraced the changes of the future.
Traditionally, furniture was connected to a family and was specifically created for them and was passed down to other generations. The desire for a futuristic look and design appealed to furniture designers as they made modern beds, chairs and other furniture that traveled to modern cities such as Los Angeles and Miami which were just beginning to evolve as metropolis’.
A sleek, artistic, yet functional look was brought to the new designs that focused on how technology could improve it. As part of modernism, furniture design was not left behind as a generation strove forward. Today, these sleek lines, new materials and other influences from modern furniture design are still seen in furniture stores. The desire to be modern drives an industry and creates a challenge in creating new furniture.