Mastering modern part I: What is modern design?

Making modern possible

Learn how to incorporate the six key features of modern design into your home.

History of Modern Design  

Modern design traces its roots back to the Bauhaus School of Design, founded in Germany in 1919. The school placed an emphasis on artistic experimentation as well as the integration of fine arts, crafts and architecture into one piece. While modern has had a strong following in Europe for many years, it is just beginning to gain momentum in the United States.


Modern design is about simplicity in all aspects. Minimalism in architecture, furniture design and placement all help to make a space look much bigger than it actually is. Without a lot of busy colors and clutter to distract, your eye is drawn to the key design elements, which helps to emphasize a feeling of spaciousness.

Form and Function 

In a perfect world, nothing in a modern space would have only one function. Even in our imperfect world, nothing is placed simply for decoration in modern design, where function is much more important than form. An object’s function and utility is emphasized in the design, and so its function actually becomes its form. Furniture and carefully placed pops of color are used to add personality to a space.

Rejection of Tradition

Many of the key elements of modern design are a direct response to traditional design styles. Modernism rejects those long-held ideas in favor of something new and different. You can see this in modern architecture that is intentionally asymmetrical, or industrial lofts that prove a home or commercial space doesn’t have to be “finished” to be beautiful.

Modern can be an intimidating design style, especially in the United States. But REHAU, with our European roots and wide ranging polymer systems from cabinetry to windows to radiant floor heating systems, can help you come up with ways to easily master stunning, functional modern spaces!


One of the first things you’ll notice about a modern space is an open floor plan; a lot of windows, and not a lot of walls. Large windows take advantage of natural light and easily connect an interior to the outside world. You won’t find opaque walls separating spaces, such as a kitchen from a living or dining room, or an office from a collaborative work space. This gives interior spaces a larger, more unified feel.

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Clean Lines 

Traditional design uses small, ornate details to draw attention to a piece of furniture or other minor design elements. In modern design, these small details are removed to create a sleek, clean appearance that draws attention to the function and essence of the object. For example, a mirror used in traditional design may be in a beveled gold frame or have ornate woodwork vines around the edges, while a frame used in modern design would have a simple, flat surface.

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Color and Texture 

Modern design utilizes neutral tones, such as gray and white, accented with pops of bright, bold colors. Textures and patterns are also very rare in modern design, as they can easily distract the eye. Instead, these spaces will feature muted palates and large expanses of smooth surfaces, allowing any textures to be eye-catching rather than overwhelming.

Stay tuned for more installments of our Mastering Modern series, which will delve into how you can incorporate modern trends using our designs for cabinetry, windows and mechanical systems.

By Madeline Lewis, REHAU Communications

Engineering progress

Enhancing lives

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