It was in the 19th century after the industrial revolution had given birth to a new class of people that modernistic ideas evolved. The traditional dark, gilded or carved wood, covered with heavy richly patterned fabrics cave way to light and simple looking furniture. Between the nobility and the down trodden poor the middle class had emerged.
They cast aside anything that was related to the rich who had trampled the poor ruthlessly. Also influences from Africa, Asia and especially Japan had a lasting effect on designing of modern furniture. Functionality, practicality and economic feasibility were the new order in furniture. Technology and industrial advancement were already playing their role in making of simplistic yet practical furniture.
Michael Thonet an Austrian German cabinet maker was the first to experiment in making bent wood furniture and using glue for joining wood pieces. His coffee shop chair also known as 'Konsumstuhl Nr 14' became world famous and till 1930 over 50 million of these chairs were produced. Another famous chair of that era was the 'Tripolina chair'. It was made of wood, metal and canvas and was patented by Joseph Fendy in 1877. This chair was widely used by the British troops during the colonial period. The director's chair is a simple folding chair that uses a scissor action to fold and is made of wood and canvas, or any other strong material that can bear the weight of the occupant. The design of this chair dates back to the 15th century and the design has been taken from ancient Roman folding stools.
Some of the iconic examples of modern furniture are the Marcel Breur's Wassily chair. This chair uses lightweight tubular steel and leather straps. The exquisite and simplistic design of these geometric shaped planes almost makes the leather straps appear to be suspended in space. The Ellen Gray side table, the Barcelona chair and Noguchi table are some of the other icons of modern furniture.
Modern furniture is functional, practical and tastefully designed to give a feeling of comfort and lightness. It differs completely from the dark and heavily embroidered medieval furniture. Metals, plastics, glass are now used along with wood in making modern furniture and a whole new generation of fabrics and colors are used. The fabrics used are of bold and bright colors which make modern furniture look inviting and artistic. Contemporary furniture has taken many forms and shapes and furniture designers use geometric patterns to create modern furniture.
Most contemporary furniture is lightweight, easy to assemble and disassemble and importantly easy to maintain. Modern furniture also has an individualistic theme, designed to suit the type of décor people want for their homes and workplaces. Colors are popularly used to make a room or office appear pleasant and relaxing. Drab, dreary and heavy colors are no longer used. If a heavy color like black is used, it will be contrasted with white or shining steel. It is modern furniture that has changed the look of the home from a formal and staid place to a casual and relaxing environment.