When it comes to finding a new sofa, modern designs are highly sought after – and for good reason. With clean, fresh designs and strong, lightweight materials, modern sofas have remained popular for nearly a century.
But what makes a modern sofa? Is it the same as a contemporary sofa, or something else altogether?
In this definitive guide, we answer these questions and more by explaining the difference between modern and contemporary sofas, while highlighting several examples of modern sofas designed specifically for living rooms and outdoor spaces.
Modern vs. Contemporary Sofa Design: What’s the Difference?
While the terms “modern” and “contemporary” are often used interchangeably in the world of furniture design, there are considerable differences.
What Is Modern Sofa Design?
When we use the word “modern” to discuss sofas or other furniture, we’re referring to a specific style of art called “modernity” that emerged in the mid-twentieth century and has remained popular ever since.
For this reason, modern furniture should technically be called “mid-century modern” to differentiate it more clearly from its contemporary alternatives.
Common elements of mid-century modern furniture include:
- Sharp, angular lines
- Geometric shapes and patterns
- A focus on functionality over form
- Neutral colour schemes
- Mixed textures
- A mixture of natural and industrial materials
- Minimalist designs
There was a clear shift from the decorative designs associated with traditional furniture to the minimalist and functional contemporary designs found in modern furniture. This was largely due to the emergence of new technologies and materials during the 1930s and ‘60s, such as vinyl and new plastics.
While these ultimately revolutionised the way sofas are both designed and produced, they had a lasting impact on the industry throughout the decades.
What is Contemporary Sofa Design?
Contemporary furniture design could be called “postmodern” or “deconstructionist.” Such designs draw from the artistic and philosophical traditions of the late 20th century to the present day.
Minimalism often remains an important feature of contemporary sofa design, but with several differences. For instance, contemporary furniture focuses on curved shapes rather than straight, angular lines.
As a result, contemporary sofas often include armrests and backs with smooth, wavelike curves whereas those on modern sofas are square or rectangular, with lines meeting at right angles.
Additionally, contemporary furniture often takes a leap away from the merely functional with a heavy focus on comfort. Contemporary sofas, for example, are often built with extra deep cushions and super-soft fabrics.
What contemporary and modern sofas do have in common though is that they both tend to use natural materials such as cotton, linen and wood. However, contemporary designs are more likely to experiment with new or unusual materials like stone and metal.
Experimentation is a larger part of the postmodern tradition, and this can be seen within many other elements of contemporary furniture as well. For example, the bold colours found on a modern sofa will likely be coupled with designs that take inspiration from the Renaissance.
While it is worth being aware of the differences between contemporary and modern sofa designs, it is just as useful to remember that every sofa is unique.
Modern Sofas for the Living Room
As an ambassador of the classic-modern lifestyle, Minotti London offers some of the most unique and sophisticated modern sofas for the living room.
All Minotti sofas are carefully manufactured using a unique blend of cutting-edge technology and artisan knowledge that spans generations. In collaboration with talented craftsmen, we use modern technologies to enhance every detail of our sofas.
Discover three of our modern sofas, designed especially for living spaces:
The Modern Seymour Sofa From Minotti
The unique curves of the Seymour Sofa offer grace and elegance seldom found in furniture | Designed by Rodolfo Dordini for © Minotti London
The Minotti Seymour sofa can be configured in many ways, setting the scene for some unique interpretations of what makes a living room. With such functionality and versatility, the Seymour sofa can be used to create linear or corner sectional compositions.
Furthermore, the Seymour has a pleasing aesthetic and touch of sophistication which resonates with a mid-twentieth century aura.
The Modern Andersen Line Sofa From Minotti
The Anderson Line Sofa appears to levitate just above the floor, providing clean lines that accent its formal yet versatile nature | Designed by Rodolfo Dordini for © Minotti London
The Minotti Andersen Line Sofa is a perfect example of the minimalism often associated with modernism. It is perfect for the corner of a living room, maximizing the use of straight lines to create an “L” shape, with one side slightly longer than the other.
Additionally, the neutral colour scheme evokes an elegance that captures the simplistic appearance of the modern living room. This sofa is particularly versatile and can be dressed in a variety of fabrics and textiles to suit discerning tastes.
The Modern Freeman Sofa From Minotti
With its strong identity and bold personality, the Freeman Sofa integrates a variety of elements to introduce innovation and comfort to any space | Designed by Rodolfo Dordini for © Minotti London
The Minotti Freeman Sofa features smooth, enveloping lines and especially sophisticated construction details steeped in tradition that evoke classical modern perfection.
The Freeman seating system was designed to “reveal a more dynamic and contemporary mindset,” making it an ideal sofa option for any living space in a modern home.
Beyond the Living Room: A Look at Outdoor Designer Sofas
Modern sofas can elevate the design of any outdoor space, whether it be a garden, veranda or rooftop. However, unlike indoor sofas, outdoor sofas and décor must be durable, robust and weatherproof. Fortunately, strong industrial materials coupled with natural elements make modern sofas ideal for outdoor settings.
Minotti London offers a whole collection of modern outdoor sofas, all of which bring an air of style and sophistication to any open-air space.
Minotti’s Modern & Sophisticated Outdoor Sofas
With its retro aesthetic, the Virginia Outdoor sofa plays with design elements that feel completely natural and modern while conveying a sense of freedom and wellbeing | Designed by Rodolfo Dordini for © Minotti London
Brilliantly balanced between the traditional and modern, the Virginia Outdoor Sofa (and the Virginia Outdoor Armchair) lends a tone of elegance to any outdoor space with its natural materials, including iroko wood, and neutral tones.
The modern sofa design features include the craftmanship of wood, which helps to elevate the qualities of a living and organic material that is as pleasing to the touch as it is the eye.
Minotti’s Natural Modern Outdoor Sofas
As with all our outdoor sofas, the iroko wood used in The Alison “Dark Brown” Outdoor Sofa is treated with protective paint for high UV and weather resistance | Designed by Rodolfo Dordini, with Roberto Minotti for © Minotti London
With an exclusive new finish, the Alison “Dark Brown” Outdoor Sofa design is distinctly modern. The rich, natural brown shades in this collection facilitate the creation of elegant pairings while the use of new fabrics brings a stylishly modern note to the outdoor series.
As well as its stylistic traits, this sofa sits on 3.5 c, high anodized aluminium blocks, that have been stained the same colour as the iroko wood. This helps to prevent direct contact with the ground, thus protecting the frame from moisture.
Minotti’s Youthful Modern Outdoor Sofas
The Quadrado’s elements are interspersed with wooden surfaces that feature trays or candle holders and can be arranged in various ways | Designed by Marcio Kogan / studio mk27 for © Minotti London
The young and contemporary design concept of the Quadrado outdoor sofa features a classic teak duckboard. This material is often found on yachts to help facilitate the outflow of water, thus lending the design a distinguished lightness.
Additionally, the suspended elements also bring functionality that is distinctively modern while the flexibility and lightness of the Quadrado offer broad compositional freedom which allows for bespoke setups and curations.
Elegance in The Living Room and Beyond
In this article, we’ve explained the difference between modern and contemporary sofa and furniture design, while discussing several of Minotti London’s designer sofas for living and outdoor spaces.
While Minotti London collections feature several more sofa designs and styles, among our favourites for living rooms are:
- Minotti’s Seymour Sofa
- Minotti’s Andersen Line Sofa
- Minotti’s Freeman Sofa
Meanwhile, the sofas below are perfectly suited for gardens, patios, balconies and rooftops:
- Minotti’s Virginia Outdoor Family Line
- Minotti’s Alison Outdoor Sofa
- Minotti’s Quarado Outdoor Sofa
Before purchasing any of Minotti London’s sofas, please be sure to visit our London showroom where our colleagues will be happy to discuss the various designs, styles and practical attributes of our collection.
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