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Comparing Classical To Modern Furniture

Updated on February 13, 2013

Lately I find myself comparing things of today and yesterday- hairstyles, clothing, music to name a few. It seems that some styles come and go while others go and come back again. I haven't seen any pink spiked hair lately, but every city I pass through seems to air a "classic rock" station. Changes in styles of clothing, art and music, among other things, reflect social and cultural history. This is true of the furniture that we choose to furnish our homes and offices with.

Design, materials and colors in furniture change as lifestyles, economic and historical events change. Technological advances in the tools used to design, create and produce furniture is reflected in furniture much like in the art and clothing industry. As we look back through history, we can note that certain periods produced it's own style of furniture; the Federal, Queen Anne and Chippendale, to name a few.


Elements of Classic Furniture

Classic furniture focuses on showing the beauty of the selected woods; the different types, colors and grains of the wood. Today companies recreate classic furniture using veneers, solids and select hardwoods. Oak, maple and cherry woods are the most widely used. Elaborate wood carvings are often produced in the wood. The wood carvings included in classic furniture are often hand-crafted wood carvings. No wood substitutes are used such is the case with many modern pieces. There is a strong emphasis on using handtools and techniques. Leather, cowhide and heavy fabrics such as brocade are often used along with the solid woods. The pieces tend to reflect harmony and order.


Modern Design and Architecture

The 20th century provided us with a great range of modern new furniture created by innovative and forward thinking designers and architects. The new designers revolutionized the world of interior design. Architects created the open plan concept in the 20th century. This changed the way we lived by opening up our home in a way never done before calling for a major change in the design of furniture. Room sizes changed. Ceilings, generally higher in past centuries were now lower. Fewer doors were used with the advent of the open plan concept. Large walk-in closets changed the needs of furniture that is used for clothing and other storage items. All of these factors helped to create change in the structure of modern furniture.


Technological Advances

Along with advances in technology came exciting new materials to incorporate in furniture. Some of these new materials included chrome, PVC plastic and laminated and steambinded timber.These new materials inspired exciting new styles never thought of before. Wood substitutes helped to create more reasonably priced and functional modern furniture. Glass and lucite began being added for table tops, making them reasonably priced and functional. There is a broader use of leather in modern furniture pieces. Molded plywood is sometimes used in modern furniture.

Changes in manufactoring technologhy of the textile industry create some of the differences seen in classic and modern furniture.Polyurethane foam came into use creating a wide choice of shapes and form. Plastics of vibrate colors added more fluid shaped forms as with such items as plastic stacking chairs. The use of color changed from period to period as well. Some colors have been popular in particular eras usually seeming to go with the various decades of time.


Designs in Outdoor Furniture

Changes in outdoor and leisure furniture can be seen between modern and classic furniture designs. Just as with indoor furniture, changes in the materials used can be noted. Classic outdoor furniture is mostly what is called cottage style. It includes arbors with swings made of wood. Wooden folding chairs and love seats as well as ladder back chairs and rockers are recreated today that are of a classic era. The 20th century brought the use of bent tubular steel for the use of outdoor furniture. PVC pipe also became a popular material for use in outdoor furniture. Modern outdoor furniture uses mostly man made materials and tends to last longer because they don't weather like wood. Again, changes in technology affect the production and use of materials used in outdoor furniture as well as indoor furniture.

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Classic, Modern or Mixture?

Classic furniture, just like a classic well made suit tends to be durable and is kept around for a long time. Many times pieces can be found to have been kept in the family, and for some people can be quite hard to part with. It's like the classic black dress or string of pearls and can "go with anything". That is why it is called classic. Modern furniture styles tend to come and go, much like that in faddish clothing or hairstyles. Thanks to re-creation techniques and the durability of classic furniture, we can decorate and redecorate our homes as our moods and tastes change. Many people even mix the two together. A classic piece can be show- cased using modern pieces to enhance it. This creates a very aesthetic combination in which we can compare and contrast both classic and modern furniture designs.


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