Design Trends, Ideas + Inspiration

Classic Modern Design: Italian

At the mention of Italian design, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Modern. Luxury. Avant-garde. With a well-established design history going back centuries, it would be fair to say that the Italian aesthetic has become a mainstay of modern design.

Modern Italian design can be separated into varying styles that include modern rustic, modern luxury and contemporary bold. Though they are all quite different from each other, the designs share a common theme: they are all influenced by the past while making an impact on the modern design world at the same time. Here is a closer look at each of those covetable Italian looks:

Rustic Farmhouse

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Rustic Italian design uses the exposure of a room’s raw materials to the advantage of the design as it combines new world pieces with an old world setting. Though the two may be from completely different worlds–such as contemporary seating elements against an old Italian farmhouse–they complement each other through contrast. We may not all live in an Italian farmhouse with exposed aged bricks and beams, but the idea of utilizing contrasting features between contemporary and traditional is a concept that’s regularly seen in settings like lofts or industrial focused design situations.

Classically Modern Luxury

Skorpio Keramik Table from Cattelan Italia

Italian design’s modern luxury draws on finding a balance between sleek elegance and timeless class. Items like dining tables and chairs are used as an opportunity to be expressive and artistic, while remaining within the confines of tasteful luxury that exudes richness. Because of this, the style finds ways to evolve to keep itself original within its niche of the design industry. Oddly, drawing inspiration from the past continuously keeps the concept fresh and opulent.

Glass-centric Contemporary

Nervi Square Table from Tonelli

With glass-working being one of the sources of historical inspiration for a modern luxury design, contemporary designers find ways to push the boundaries between the capabilities of glass work and modern design. Traditional Italian glass work is rooted in Venice and Minotti where artistically blown glass became quite popular across Europe at varying points in history. Now, the tradition behind the craft and the quality craftsmanship around glass manipulation finds its way into modern design in equally artistic manners, but suited to today’s tastes.

Luxurious Leather

Giada Chair from Antonello Italia

Leather is another material that Italy is internationally recognized for producing the best in the world. Similar to glass, leather has a past rooted in methods from centuries-old workshops. To this day, the best tanneries in Italy continue to keep alive the traditional dying and tanning techniques that give the country its reputation for top-tiered leathers. Such leathers add to the quality and luxury of modern day Italian seating, while complementing the design of a sofa or dining chair.

Memphis Bold

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The contemporary bold part of Italian design takes a completely different aesthetic route compared to its more refined counterparts. Revolving around the concepts of fun, color and well-defined shapes, it’s easy to see how this division may find its roots in Italy’s Memphis Movement. Challenging the idea of what “living” should look like, Memphis broke the barriers of industry standards by centralizing design around colors and shapes to express creativity. Brands like Kartell use materials like polyethylene and thermoplastic to their advantage to create a piece that’s design is focused on color and simplified shape, while serving a functional purpose.

How modern Italian design influences the modern home can be seen through various aspects of its character. While one style may work in combination with the rawness of old world surroundings, another will find its inspiration from old world crafts to build upon contemporary luxury, and still another will blaze its own path with a focus on the avant-garde. In its own right, Italian design makes its own unique waves in the general design industry setting it apart from the rest as it makes its way into the home, adding character and modernity to the same space it elevates.

Yvette C.

Yvette C.

Yvette is a Site Merchandiser for YLiving. Her deep appreciation for design stems from a background in art history and interior design. During her off hours, she enjoys ogling cute animals, reading, catching up on TV series, following blogs, and enjoying the quirks of California's Bay Area.

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