If any design style has defined the last few years, it’s midcentury modernism. With names like Eames, Saarinen, Mies and Neutra as inspiration, the utopian ideals and the alleged objectivity of capitalism “M” have been the driving force behind many design trends of the past decade. If this year’s New York City Design Week was any indication, however, a very different kind of revival is soon to come – that of postmodernism. This reactionary change in design, which exchanged utopian objectivity for pluralistic subjectivity and formal experimentation, has its roots in the 1970s and 80s, when design studios like Memphis crossed boundaries with structure, material, pattern and meaning.
This time around, we find designers applying a similar aesthetic to contemporary philosophies, now highlighting ideas such as sustainability, ethical production, durable material and cultural overlap. Filtered through a minimalist lens, these new designs look both familiar and remarkably fresh. Below we share ten of our favorite designs from this exciting movement.
OS and OOS
The creation by Oskar Peet and Sophie Mensen, OS and OOS based in the Netherlands, makes formally experimental objects that combine a minimalist context with postmodern abstraction.
These stools by multimedia designer Anna Karlin combine simple shapes with bold, complex patterns.
Aelfie & Studio Proba
This collaboration between the textile studio Aelfie and Studio Proba includes carpets made by manufacturers of the home industry in India.
Brooklyn-based design studio Bower creates sleek, modern designs with simple geometry and unexpected composition.
This tray with lid from Earnest Studio juxtaposes roughly cut natural stone with clean geometry to create subtle complexity.
Umbra Shift is an offshoot of the legendary Umbra brand and produces small objects by emerging designers with a focus on contemporary design trends. Taken together, Shift’s objects represent a dialogue about material, shape and color.
The furniture by the Montreal designer Zoe Mowat combines simple shapes and contrasting materials to create abstract, functional compositions.
Made of steel, copper and glass, the Halo Light by Studio Medium in Vancouver presents everyday shapes and materials in a new way.
Brooklyn-based studio Vonnegut Kraft combines a simple, legible construction with a subtle playful color for a warm and minimalist look.
London-based design studio Sé took home the ICFF Editor’s Award for Best Furniture, and it’s no surprise why. Her luxurious furniture combines the formal vocabulary of postmodernism with the sensibilities and materials of decor, a combination that is beautiful, accessible and modern at the same time.