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Philosophy of Contemporary Design

It is a common misconception that the term "contemporary" represents the extreme opposite of "traditional/' when applied to furniture design. There is no significant difference between conventional methods of some basic types and some basic contemporary concepts. Indeed, the original, solid wood furniture of early colonial America has much in common with today's best modern furniture. Both types are primarily functional — and both are devoid of ostentatious ornamentation.

But the line is sharply drawn between contemporary furniture and traditional furniture of the more sophisticated periods. Indeed, modern design's philosophy rules out the use of applied embellishment, elaborately curved and scrolled shapes, and decorative turning. It seeks beauty through absolute simplicity.

The efficient contemporary designer is continuously concerned with the economy of essentials. He must often ask himself: "Is this feature necessary?— And does it contribute anything to the appeal and purpose of the design?"

A chair is not made more comfortable by the carving or turning off its legs, nor is the table rendered more serviceable by the amount of decoration it displays. So the contemporary designer discards traditional embellishment insofar as it does not contribute to functional requirements.

Anatomy of Contemporary Furniture By:

John Gerald Shea

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