A Truly Contemporary Design

Questioning the merits of an overplayed design style as being true to the definition of what actual Contemporary Design ought to be.




The pervasive use of a trending singular style among designers is out of fear of irrelevancy. To be seen as unfashionable in one's design aesthetic is a faux paux in its gravest sense. The fear of irrelevancy pushes people toward a similar style or modus operandi in the guise of contemporary design that uses the same repeating shapes, forms and materials over and over again. These design moves become expected.

“I cannot see how the same rectangular forms and minimalist outlook of the 1950s - post-war - turned euro-centric aesthetic could be so relevant today.”

Today, the term 'contemporary design' has been co-opted to play into the same minimalism and values of the Modernist Movement of the 1950s and has been employed since. It is adamant in its agenda to shed origin, discard ornament and lift up the ever present rectangular form.

As a designer truly interested in how the evolution of our society informs our collective design aesthetic, I cannot see how the same rectangular forms and minimalist outlook of the 1950s - post-war - turned euro-centric aesthetic could be so relevant today.


Defining Contemporary


The word 'contemporary' is defined as belonging to or occurring in the present. So when we consider the present, when we consider what our society looks like now, what our collective values are; what do we see?

As a first generation Pakistani American, what is visible in my world is several dollops of coconut oil richer than the post war minimalism which has become the go-to aesthetic. I see both, the ornamental dressing of victorian-era buildings and the colorful adobe inspired bungalows. I see the thousands of immigrant neighborhoods scattered through our cities with their own cultures unreflected in the designed spaces around them.


The study of this layering of cultures and mixing of peoples and the distillation of new forms and what this dynamic mish mash could produce is truly Contemporary Design.