If any one design style has defined the past several years, it is Midcentury Modernism. With names like Eames, Saarinen, Mies, and Neutra acting as inspiration, the utopian ideals and purported objectivity of capital “M” Modernism have been the guiding force behind many of the last decade’s design trends. If this year’s New York City Design Week was any indication, though, an entirely different sort of revival is soon to be upon us—that of Postmodernism. Exchanging utopian objectivity for pluralistic subjectivity and formal experimentation, this reactionary design shift finds its roots in the 1970s and 80s, a time when design studios like Memphis were pushing boundaries with structure, material, pattern, and meaning.
This time around, we find designers applying similar aesthetics to contemporary philosophies, now emphasizing ideas like sustainability, ethical production, lasting material, and cultural intersection. Filtered through a minimalist lens, these new designs look both familiar and remarkably fresh. Below, we’re sharing ten of our favorite designs from this exciting movement.
OS and OOS
The creation of Oskar Peet and Sophie Mensen, Netherlands-based OS and OOS makes formally experimental objects that blend a minimalist context with Postmodern abstraction.
These stools from multimedia designer Anna Karlin combine simple shapes with bold, complex pattern.
Aelfie & Studio Proba
This lidded tray from Earnest Studio juxtaposes rough-cut natural stone with clean geometry to create subtle complexity.
An offshoot of the iconic Umbra brand, Umbra Shift produces small objects from emerging designers with a focus on contemporary design currents. Paired together, Shift’s objects represent a dialogue about material, form, and color.
Montreal designer Zoe Mowat’s furniture combines simple shapes and contrasting materials to create abstract, functional compositions.
Constructed from steel, copper, and glass, Vancouver-based Studio Medium’s Halo Light showcases everyday forms and materials in a new way.
Brooklyn-based studio Vonnegut Kraft pairs simple, legible construction with quietly playful color for a look that is both warm and minimal.
London-based design studio Sé took home The ICFF Editor’s prize for Best Furniture and it’s no surprise why. Their luxurious furnishings combine the formal vocabulary of Postmodernism with Deco sensibilities and materials, a pairing that is at once beautiful, accessible, and cutting-edge.