April 07, 2021 3 min read

Modern interior design – a guide to modern interior styles and design

Modern interior design has its roots firmly planted in the soils of the early 19th century developing throughout the 20th century.

The modernism movement began to unfold as it moved away from using traditional building and design materials like wood, stone and brick and instead began to focus on industrial materials including glass, steel and concrete. The most recognised and influential design philosophy was created by the German Bauhaus school of design in the 1920s, whose design aesthetic was centred on the belief that form should combine with function.

This principle saw the emergence of modern design and a style that we recognise and continue to use today. From the stark white look of minimalism, industrialism and Scandinavian interiors to the richer, bolder forms of rustic modern, maximalism, mid-century and glamour.

Modern interior design is shaped by a heritage of clean lines, geometric form, clear spaces, function and storage. Below we explore some of the concepts behind modern design style, how to distinguish each approach and how to create the look in your own home.


As with all fashions and styles everything comes and goes over time and maximalism is seen as a push back to minimalism. The quiet whites, minimal decorating and less is more philosophy of minimalism is tossed out completely with maximalism, as colour, décor and more is more, are the go-to aspects of this design school of thought. However, furniture, colour, pattern, textiles and collections are not added without clear thought and clarity.

Maximalism takes time to create, it is a curation of layers and this organisation is absolutely critical to the overall effect, producing colourful comfort and curiosity. By slowing building up collections, be it houseplants, antique books or ceramic sculptures, you will eventually create an organically layered effect.

Maximalist queen, and founder of Shoreditch interiors storeWA Green, Zoe Anderson advises:

“Being a maximalist is all about going with your gut, not being afraid of making mistakes but taking your time. Remember colour loves colour so layer up and go for it.To avoid things looking too contrived, allow things to happen naturally. We maximalists are like magpies, we’re collectors, we can’t stop ourselves when we see something that screams: ‘you need me’. Most recently I fell in love with some plates but the only wall space was above a door frame. They look ace there which just shows where there’s a will there’s always a way.”

Using multiple colours and patterns is key, but consider using one colour or tone as a connecting theme throughout, it will provide a sense of balance in the room. Scale and type of furniture is fluid in a maximalist space, mixing modern with mid-century or antique is absolutely fine and in fact, encouraged, each piece adds to the bold richness of a maximalist home.

Interior designer Hubert Zandberg explains the styling in his Berlin apartment: “Perhaps the best illustration of ‘modernism’ used in an ‘eclectic conversation’ is my Berlin apartment. I very deliberately created this environment to examine the relationship between Bauhaus, Brazilian modernism and African cubism. I believe the clarity, simplicity and structure that modernism/Bauhaus brings, forms a robust corner stone whereupon one can layer to any degree. The strong skeleton that carries any amount of ‘fleshing out’...even ‘carrying’ the most maximalist interior!”

Exclusive Offers