Design Movements to Know: What is Bauhaus Design?

Love a good lesson in design history? Well, you’ve come to the right place. At Modsy, we love looking back at design movements of the past and exploring how they impact trends and styles today.

One era that we’re seeing continually influence design today is the Bauhaus design movement. What started as a school in Germany quickly became a philosophical approach to design that took the global design world by storm. Interested in learning more about this iconic moment in design history? Read on for the full scoop on Bauhaus interior design, with insights from our resident design historian, Alessandra Wood. Plus, we’re sharing how we’re seeing Bauhaus influences show up in the design world today!

The Bauhaus was a German art school that operated from 1919-1933.

The Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany.

What is Bauhaus?

So, what exactly is Bauhaus? Is it a design style? A movement? It’s actually a little of both—but before it was either, it was a school. The Bauhaus was a German art school that operated from 1919-1933.

“The school was founded under the principle of unifying all the different art and design disciplines,” says Alessandra. She says it was all about bringing artists and designers together, to learn from and be inspired by each other rather than each field of art being “siloed” on its own. The school sought to elevate craftsmanship to the level of fine art, getting rid of the distinction between craftsman and artist. (Craftsmanship including trades and mediums like architecture, interior design, crafts, and textiles.) As such, the Bauhaus served as a combined architecture school, crafts school, and academy of the arts.

The Bauhaus school of design was established by architect Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany, where it was until moving to Dessau in 1925. From 1932-33, the school was located in Berlin.

Photo of Walter Gropius taken circa 1919.

Photo of Walter Gropius taken circa 1919.

“Gropius wasn’t the first thinker with this idea of unifying the arts, but the Bauhaus was very formative in changing the trajectory of how we view the arts today,” says Alessandra. “It was revolutionary.” The school became famous for its approach to design and the unification of art, craft, and technology. In this creative space, individual artistic vision was combined with craftsmanship and modern mass manufacturing techniques in an attempt to bring together function and aesthetic.

Alessandra adds, “Gropius was also really interested in design and production. He wanted to create things that were accessible to the masses. He was really driven by ‘good design’ and bringing good design to all people.”

The Bauhaus school was only in existence for 14 years due to pressure from the Nazi regime (they dissaproved of the school and what it stood for, seeing it as an epicenter of communist intellectualism). But the design principles that the school established lived on—as faculty and graduates of the Bauhaus left Germany and found refuge around the world, bringing their design philosophies with them.

Alessandra says that, as instructors and students left Germany, they brought the philosophy of the Bauhaus with them. Many stepped into positions where they were teaching the next generation of architects and designers, which “shaped the whole movement of design, internationally, and eventually became the basis of the Mid-Century Modern design movement.”

What are the main principles of Bauhaus interior design?

The Bauhaus school and subsequent design movement was all about simplicity, which had a major impact on modern furniture and interior design. Bauhaus style focuses on reducing designs down to their most basic elements, resulting in clean, minimalist spaces; streamlined forms; and an absence of ornamentation. The intention is to create harmony between an object’s function and design. 

In the realm of furniture design, this simplicity also lent itself to mass production. Bauhaus artists embraced the industrial technologies of the day, using mass-production techniques to make their designs more accessible.

Read on to learn more about the most iconic and enduring interior design principles of the Bauhaus movement.

Rainbow colored Nesting tables designed by Josef Albers.

Nesting tables designed by Josef Albers.

Form Follows Function

In the world of architecture and interior design, the idea of “form follows function” speaks to the idea that the shape of a building or piece of furniture should primarily relate to its intended purpose. Translation? Keep ornamentation and frills to a minimum, focusing first and foremost on practicality of use. In the Bauhaus philosophy, a sofa is no good if it’s beautiful but not comfortable. A chair is useless if it can’t comfortably support you. A lamp is primarily for adding accent lighting to a room not to make a style statement.

That’s not to say that Bauhaus design is strictly utilitarian. However, the purpose of a piece of furniture or decor should be the starting point for its design. The result is that practicality and functionality were valued by Bauhaus designers more than aesthetics.

“This idea comes out of the early minimalist theory, which negates applied ornamentation,” says Alessandra. “They believed that the function of the piece is so core to its existence, that its aesthetic should merely support the function. Of course, it should be beautiful—but without additives.”

Less is More

The term “less is more” actually originated with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the last director of the Bauhaus school. Bauhaus designs were all about simplicity and reducing pieces to their simplest forms while also keeping them accessible, functional, and with some aesthetic value. Sound familiar? This is a major tenant of minimalist design—and Bauhaus is where many of today’s minimalist design ideas originate.

“Instead of adding ornamentation, like gilding, carvings, or design elements that weren’t inherently part of the function of a piece, Bauhaus artists instead created pieces that celebrated the worker and their ability to produce something functional,” says Alessandra.

The “less is more” approach was also practical as Bauhaus artists explored mass production techniques. “If a piece is super decorative, it’s more difficult to mass produce,” notes Alessandra. “When a piece has a simple form, it can be more easily reproduced and therefore be more accessible to more people.”

Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, where marble walls take the place of decoration

Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, where marble walls take the place of decoration

Truth to Materials & Material as Ornament

A core tenant of Bauhaus design is the belief in “truth to materials,” where materials like steelwork and concrete were used in their most “honest” form, resulting in leaving them exposed and unpainted.

This was intimately connected with the elimination of unnecessary ornamentation and embellishments in favor of functionality. By the intentional use of materials that offer inherent ornamentation (which gets at the idea of “material as ornament”), buildings and furniture were kept visually interesting. In the 1920s and 30s, Bauhaus-era designers used materials like tubular steel, glass, wicker, and concrete to bring visual interest without adding additional ornamentation. Today, we see that same philosophy applied through the use of ornamental materials like marble and granite.

“The Bauhaus designers weren’t trying to mask materials they were using,” says Alessandra. “This often came through in the use of natural materials—like stone with rich patterns, leather, or woven materials in a natural colorway, all of which use color and texture to create depth in a design.”

Other notable features of Bauhaus designs:

  • Simple geometric shapes, like rectangles and spheres
  • Buildings, furniture, and fonts with rounded corners
  • Furniture featuring curved chrome metal pipes
  • The use of primary colors
  • The innovative use of materials

Iconic Bauhaus Designs

Some of the most iconic designs from the Bauhaus school and movement are still in production today (both the original designs as well as replicas). Here are a few of the most iconic Bauhaus designs.

Leather and steal Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer

The Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer

Also known as the Model B3 Chair, it was designed from 1925-26 by Hungarian modernist architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer. He was one of the first and youngest students at the Bauhaus. The chair design was inspired by bicycle handlebars; he used the same tubular steel that’s used on bicycle handlebars as the frame of the chair. The form was inspired by an overstuffed club chair, but Breuer significantly simplified the form, then used canvas for the seat, backrest, and arms.

The Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich

Bauhaus school director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the Barcelona chair in conjunction with architect Lilly Reich for the Barcelona International Exhibition in 1929. The simplistic form of this low lounge chair features two slim cushions over a light, X-shaped stainless steel frame.

“This chair was re-popularized in the mid-century and was used in a ton of Mid-Century Modern designs,” says Alessandra.

The Brno Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The Brno Chair, also known as a cantilever chair, is a great example of an object being reduced to its most basic elements and form. Designed by van der Rohe in the late 1920s, he was playing around with the idea that a chair doesn’t necessarily have to have four legs. Instead, he designed the Brno Chair in a cantilever style, with the seat being supported by a single C-shaped bar.

“A lot of Bauhaus designers experimented with this shape of chair,” says Alessandra. “In a production setting, you’re bending one piece of metal to get the shape instead of assembling multiple pieces—making mass-production easier. As we think about the Bauhaus philosophy of designing for ease of production, this is part of that ideal coming to life.”

One example of a similar design that has stood the test of time? The Cesca chair, which was designed by Breuer in 1928. The notable difference between the Cesca and Brno chairs is that the Cesca chair was made with tubular steel, while the frame of the Brno chair was made with a flatter steel. However, both used really modern, industrial-first materials and production methods.

The MT8 Lamp (aka the Wagenfeld Table Lamp) by William Wagenfeld and Carl Jakob Jucker

The MT8 Lamp, also known as the Wagenfeld Table Lamp, was designed by Bauhaus students William Wagenfeld and Carl Jakob Jucker in 1923. It later became known as “the Bauhaus Lamp” for the way that it so beautifully embodies the Bauhaus principle of “form follows function.” With a simple circular base, a cylindrical shaft, and a spherical shade, it has a minimalist, geometric shape. It was very economical in its use of materials and the industrial techniques used to produce this lamp.

The Bauhaus Bauspiel by Alma Siedhoff-Buscher

A set of wooden blocks for children, Alma Siedhoff-Buscher (a student in the woodcarving department) designed the Bauhaus Bauspiel as part of an exhibition at the Bauhaus in 1923. The assortment of 22 colorful wooden blocks can be stacked together to create a ship. The design highlights the colors and shapes of the Bauhaus and most certainly follow the “less is more” design principle. Immediately becoming popular, the Bauhaus produced and distributed various versions of this play set, and a replica of this set is still produced today by the Swiss company Naef.

Household Objects by Marianne Brandt

While not one specific design, today Marianne Brandt is known more for her body of work—which includes metal household objects such as lamps, ashtrays and teapots. A German painter, sculptor, photographer, metalsmith, and designer, Brandt studied and later taught at the Bauhaus. She designed her pieces with mass production in mind, and many reproductions are still available today.

Bauhaus-Inspired Designs Today

The philosophies and impact of the Bauhaus are far from in the past. “Today, we see a lot of pieces that were designed by Bauhaus designers continuing to be produced and popular today,” says Alessandra. “People are still using these designs.”

And beyond literal design, Alessandra says the design philosophies of the Bauhaus school are still being practiced today by many designers. “Minimalism is still very popular, as is the idea of creating pieces and homes with a ‘less is more’ approach.” We’re also continuing to see a lot of “material as ornament” in the re-popularization of natural materials in interior design. “Designers today are still leveraging beautiful natural materials like marble, leather, and caning to create that sense of ornamentation without added ornamentation,” says Alessandra.

Alessandra also notes that, in the past several years, there have been a lot of furniture and home decor brands emerging that are trying to create “good design for the masses,” with pieces that can be easily and affordably reproduced. “A lot of the pieces we carry here at Modsy follow that same sentiment—we carry pieces that are beautiful, well-designed, and affordable while also making interior design accessible to more people.”

Want to actually see how our Modsy designers are using the principles, shapes, and materials or the Bauhaus design movement in their designs today? Scroll down for some beautiful examples.

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Understated and Functional

For this living room inspired by the Bauhaus, we kept things pure and true to the philosophy of this movement: form follows function. This was the primary motivating factor behind the design. The furniture itself is simple; however, each piece is shapely, featuring interesting frames and solid textile surfaces. The interest and movement comes from the primary colors in this space—which were widely used when color was used in the original Bauhaus era. And the marble-top coffee table? Material as ornament at its finest. The overall design is understated from today’s perspective of style, but it’s functional and welcoming all the same.

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A Timeless Classic

The iconic forms of Bauhaus furniture (and Bauhaus-inspired pieces) are truly timeless. Exhibit A: the cantilever chairs. Their form is so striking—an art piece in and of themselves. We centered the design of this dining room around the chairs, creating a space that is inspired by the Bauhaus movement but could easily be in a millennial’s home today. By keeping the decor minimal but layering some texture with artwork, the rattan-clad chairs, and the faux hide rug, this space is simplistic in each piece individually. But together, it creates a rich and unique look that spans many decades!

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Sweet Simplicity

Simplicity reigns supreme here! This minimalist bedroom puts function on par with style. In classic Bauhaus fashion, there is little-to-no ornament, save a single piece of art, a few vases, and the spotted rug. But these pieces take a back seat to the sculptural forms of the foundational furniture. Another layer of decoration comes through from the saturated colors in the design. The deep rust bed, gray walls and chair, and blue rug all create a striking visual impact in the space. Modern Bauhaus style at its finest!

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Meet the Designer: Talking Boho Prep, Wes Anderson, and the Secret Ingredient for “Good Design” with Angela Lee

The Modsy design network is full of individuals with incredibly diverse backgrounds. Some are formally trained, some are self-taught, and many had established careers in a totally different industry before making their way into the world of interior design. (Kind of like some of our favorite interior designers outside of the Modsy world!) We want to introduce you to some of our talented designers—to help you get to know the people behind the screens!

Want to work one-on-one with one of our talented designers to decorate your home? Start a Modsy design project and get matched with an expert who will show you designs in your exact space in 3D!

Today, meet Modsy designer Angela L!

Angela has been working in the interior design world for nearly a decade, and we were lucky enough to add her to our team of talented designers in the past year. Angela is inspired by design movements of the past—but is always looking forward, constantly discovering new ways to remix old styles.

We (virtually) sat down with Angela to hear more about her personal design style, where she finds inspiration, and design tips she swears by.

white living room mirror gold

A peek inside Angela’s “dream room” designed in Modsy 3D

How did you get into the interior design industry?

“I went to school for interior design and have been working in the industry for the last 10 years.”

How did you find yourself at Modsy?

“During Covid, I quit my corporate office job and needed a break from corporate life. I wanted to work on a more personal and tangible level, where I could actually see and talk with the people who were going to live in and experience the spaces I design.”

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How would you describe your personal design style?

“My style was once described as ‘boho prep’ and I’ve stuck to that description ever since. I tend to layer patterns, textures, and rustic or vintage/antique elements. This combination is a staple of bohemian style. I love pairing those things with tailored elements, such as clean lines, simple silhouettes, and crisp finishing, which is typical of a more preppy look. The resulting combination has both a little chaos and a little refinement; ‘refined chaos’ I suppose you could say.”

living room accent chair rustic traditional

One of Angela’s stunning designs in Modsy 3D

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What is the secret ingredient that you think makes a good design into a great one?

“Time. Good design truly cannot be rushed. It takes time to curate ideas, as well as specific pieces and elements that help a client develop their personal style. And, from a designer’s perspective, there’s no magic number or formula that is going to make a design good. It takes time and experience to truly be able to give someone a thoughtful and purposeful design.”

Where do you get inspiration?

“I like to take inspiration from the large style movements of the past. Each era has given us a wonderful foundation that we can be inspired by. I think that’s why I can’t ever seem to pinpoint one specific style that I’m drawn to—it’s ever-evolving.

“One thing I personally don’t subscribe to are trends. They’re ‘out’ before they’re ‘in,’ no matter how the masses move. I believe that great design stands the test of time and transcends the trends.”

One of Angela’s client mood boards created under her own design firm, Casita Interiors

Do you have a favorite design era or movement?

“I love Victorian interiors; they’re the epitome of maximalism. They used ornate and bold elements with lots of layering. Victorian spaces are robust and extravagant while being inviting and intimate at the same time.

“I also can’t get enough of the Postmodernism and Bauhaus eras. Postmodern interiors are bold and a little wild, and I love the way that this style is being interpreted today. I see people combining classic Postmodern elements with more minimalist interiors; it resonates really well. Bauhaus is the genesis of so many of our favorites today. So many iconic pieces were borne from the Bauhaus movement and are staples in great modern interiors. These style periods are great because they’re not just about interiors—they’re whole movements. They explored the human experience and produced art, interiors, innovation, and changed the way we think, which is why they’re so iconic and influential.

red lving room brown leather couch black accent lamp

Angela isn’t afraid of a bold design!

What are the 3 design tips you swear by?

  1. Push the envelope and get out of your comfort zone. Do a little research and discover new designers, try that layout you’ve been mulling over, get those paint swatches and try that bold color. You can start small by changing your throw pillows or introduce a color you keep coming back to. Or you can splurge on that piece of great art and buy that antique. Don’t be afraid to mix different styles.
  2. If it feels wrong, there’s only one way to find out if it truly is: try it. There are no wrong answers and no stupid questions. It never hurts to try something, even if you end up changing it!
  3. Start with white walls. Finding a great white paint that works for you is a great way to start fresh and create a blank canvas. There are so many shades and so many variations.

The lobby from The Grand Budapest Hotel—AKA one of the many cinematic interiors Angela loves!

What interior from a movie or TV show would you live in if you could?

“I love the Jacobean and Georgian houses in Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. But I also really love Hogwarts and the grandeur of the Grand Budapest Hotel!”

What’s your interior design pet peeve?

“When people want to warm up blue and grey. They’re probably the most exhaustive colors used currently—everyone has grey floors, walls and sofas. And their primary issue is that it feels cold. But it can be done. Though they’re inherently cool colors, you can warm them up by introducing warm colors to the room. That can be in the form of warm woods, picking a French grey (which is a warmer grey), or finding colors that compliment blue and grey, such as shades or orange or red. Having a color wheel is a great way to see what colors are complementary and naturally work well together.”

living room orange and green

Another design by Angela in Modsy 3D

What’s your favorite place to vacation?

“I’ve never been to the same place twice. There are too many places that have so much to offer! I took a cross-country road trip last year and visited so many places, but what specifically sticks in my mind right now is the Rocky Mountain National Park. The golden aspens there turn this amazing bright yellow in September/October.”

What’s the last book you read and enjoyed?

“A book called ‘The Double.’ It’s about a man living a mundane life; he sees someone in a movie who is his doppelganger, and he decides to pursue him. It’s an interesting look at identity and how our experiences define us.”

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Movements to Know: Chatting With a Design Historian About the Memphis Design Movement

When you think of interior and graphic design from the 1980s, what comes to mind? Geometric black and white patterns? Squiggly lines in primary colors? Zany patterns in loud color combos? While these design elements might just seem like part of the spirit of the decade, they’re actually all connected to a larger design movement. It’s called Memphis design, and it’s a style that had a huge impact on the culture of the 80s and beyond.


David Bowie was an avid collector of Memphis pieces—the dining table pictured above was his!

But Memphis is much more than that ubiquitous “look” of the 80s. It was a design movement that changed the way the industry thought. And in the past several years it’s shown up all over the place, in new formats and through new applications. Memphis design style is quite popular today, and it’s possible you’ve seen Memphis-inspired designs without realizing it—in celebrity homes, in the fashion industry, in retail concepts and restaurant design.

With 1980s-inspired design trends returning to the popular consciousness in the last couple of years, we thought it was time to take a deeper look at this iconic style. So we talked to Modsy’s resident design historian, VP of Style Alessandra Wood, to learn more about Memphis interior design—both its history and impact. Read on to get the scoop on this zany, groundbreaking 80s interior design style, and learn more about how it’s showing up in the design world today!

Memphis Design Style Living room

What is Memphis Design?

“Memphis style is a postmodern design movement that developed in reaction to the modern designs of the mid-century,” says Alessandra. “It’s a fun and frivolous style that doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

The way that this style uses colors—a lot of primary colors, along with some pastels—makes it feel youthful and lighthearted. Patterns are also a huge part of this style—from geometric shapes like circles and triangles to terrazzo, squiggles, lightning bolts, and spirals.

80s MTV logos featuring a variety of Memphis-inspired patterns.

“Memphis design pushed boundaries—pushing the design world into new frontiers,” says Alessandra. “In the postmodern movement, especially out of Italy, designers were challenging the forms that came before them.” And the way these designers used shapes was a huge part of that. 80s Memphis design style was unlike anything the design world had ever seen.

And yet, there were elements that were subtle nods to the past. “Designers in the Memphis movement were actively trying to go against what came before them, but they were also making references to the past,” Alessandra adds The geometric shapes they used referenced Art Deco design of the 1920s and the vibrant color palette was borrowed from the Pop Art movement of the 1950s.

Where did this design style come from?

“In the 80s, huge cultural shifts were taking place in Europe and America,” Alessandra explains. “The US had a really strong economy that was rebounding after the recession in the 70s, and there was a new wave of wealth that came into play.” People were revelling in new technology and were looking toward the future with excitement.

Members of the Memphis group gathered on the Tawaraya Boxing Ring, designed by Studio Azzurro in 1981

Members of the Memphis group gathered on the Tawaraya Boxing Ring, designed by Studio Azzurro in 1981

Enter: The Memphis Group

In late 1980, Italian designer Ettore Sottsass gathered a group of designers at his apartment in Milan. They started by simply sharing inspiration, bouncing ideas off of each other, and getting feedback on their sketches.

But, in their excitement of the concepts they were creating, they decided to develop a collection of furniture and decor, which they showed at an exhibition in 1981. This collective of designers formalized their connection and shared aesthetic, dubbing themselves the Memphis Group.

Fun fact: The name “Memphis” seems odd for a group of Italian designers. But it comes from Bob Dylan’s song “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” which the group was listening to at their initial gathering.

Carlton bookcase, designed by Ettore Sottssas in 1981

The iconic Carlton bookcase, designed by Ettore Sottssas in 1981, is probably the most recognizable and widely known piece of design from the Memphis movement.

Taking Design to the Next Level

The furniture and decor the Memphis Group created was unlike anything that had been made before. “It was a counter-movement against the very minimal and modern design of the mid-century,” says Alessandra. “They were looking to create designs that were lighthearted, funny, futuristic, surprising, and—most of all—pushing against the trends of the day.”

They rejected the trends of the past—but at the same time, they did borrow or make reference to certain elements from the past, which gave their zany pieces a look that had a sense of familiarity. “They were very intentional about their use of youthful colors, shapes, and patterns,” says Alessandra. “The Memphis Group took design to the next level, with the intent of bringing this playful spirit to the forefront of popular culture.”

Their actual furniture designs never widely made their way into people’s homes—but the overall style entered pop culture in a way that solidified its popularity, inspiring a lot of design that we’re familiar with from the 80s.

How are we seeing this look show up in design today?

Though Sottsass officially dismantled the Memphis Group in 1988, the Memphis vibe has lived on in various ways ever since. It’s an aesthetic that has infiltrated fashion, architecture, product design (see: the original Apple watch from the mid-90s), retail concepts, television and movie sets (think: Pee Wee’s Playhouse and “The Max” from Saved by the Bell), and so much more. The bright colors, bold graphic prints, and vibrant patterns have been applied in so many different ways since the 80s.

“Today, we’re seeing elements of Memphis design in retail and public spaces,” says Alessandra. One element of Memphis style that’s become quite a trend in the past couple of years? Terrazzo. “It’s a current trend that has a similar ‘soul’ to Memphis,” says Alessandra. Depending on the colors used in the terrazzo pattern, “it can elicit thoughts of confetti or sprinkles, which speaks to the playful, almost celebratory feeling that Memphis design creates.”

But we’re also seeing pop culture icons latch onto the zaniness of this style. Exhibit A: Miley Cyrus’ 80s glam home. It has some blatant references to Memphis design in some of the rooms—including a Memphis original. In her glam-room lounge, she has a Carlton bookcase, designed by Sottsass in 1981. But the playful and over-the-top style found throughout her home captures the playful spirit of the design movement.


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What’s the lasting impact of the Memphis Design movement?

“What I see as the lasting impact of the Memphis design movement is the ability for designers to take themselves less seriously,” says Alessandra. “The way they created also acted as an invitation for people to be less serious in how they design their spaces.”

“In the 80s, the Memphis Group was Introducing moments of quirkiness and fun into interior design,” she adds. “We’re seeing that sensibility in design today in the way that GenZ and some Millennials before them, are feeling the freedom to add quirkiness to their home’s design.”


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You’ll Know it’s Memphis Design When You See…

Furniture and Decor With Playful Forms

Pieces designed with the Memphis aesthetic feel fresh and different. The forms are non-traditional—some might even say wild and wacky! They tend to be fluid and have a sense of movement and playfulness to them.

Squiggle patterns, also known as the Bacterio print


Squiggle patterns, also known as the Bacterio print, was actually designed by Sottsass and quickly became Memphis’s trademark pattern. It’s a pattern that comes to mind for many people when they think of 80s graphic design, and it’s often used in conjunction with other patterns.

A Bold Use of Color

Whether it’s the primary colors mixed together or softer, pastel colors like seafoam green and light purple, the name of the game is bold. These colors are used in prints and patterns, offering even more visual boldness. And these color schemes are often accented with pops of black for contrast.

Visual References to the Past—With a Twist

Even though Memphis interior design was all about looking to the future, the iconic Memphis pieces all had some allusions to the past. But those references were always a twist on the original—reinterpreting a popular visual or cultural reference point from the past. Some examples? The Proust Armchair by Alessandro Mendini is an iconic example. Mendini was a member of the Memphis Group—but he actually designed the Proust Armchair in the late 70s as he began exploring postmodernism and the idea of REdesign. The armchair is inspired by 18th-century Rococo style—but the wooden frame is hand-painted in bright colors with a pointillism technique, and it’s upholstered in a matching fabric. The result is a bold chair that captures the heart and soul of the Memphis movement. Sottsass’s Casablanca Shelf is another great example of a piece designed with visual references to the past. The design was inspired by Victorian-era hall shelves but is given more modern lines and finished in that quintessential Memphis style.

Black and White Patterns Galore

Graphic, high-contrast black and white patterns—especially patterns that feature geometric shapes and squiggles—were a major element in the Memphis design movement. And these bold patterns in black and white show up a lot in today’s take on Memphis style.

Laminate and Terrazzo Used on More Than Just Floors

Before the 80s, laminate and terrazzo were materials used in flooring. But the Memphis Group gave these materials new applications, making tables and lamps out of these two materials. Today, you can still find tons of laminate furniture on the market. And terrazzo? It’s a pattern that’s been applied to just about everything, from tables and lamps to notebooks, art prints, pillows, mugs, and so much more.



What Do Our Homes Look Like Now? 5 Ways We Think COVID-19 Will Impact Interior Design

2020 was a year of major changes for our homes. Home offices were booming, multi-use spaces were the norm, and people looked for creative ways to make the most of every square inch of their homes. Hello homeschooling zone/home office/movie theater/home gym/daycare combo spaces!

But now that we’re starting to come out of the worst of the pandemic, what do our homes look like? What changes should go from temporary to permanent, and what will shift back to how it was before?

We surveyed our network of Modsy designers to see what themes and trends they’re seeing in how people are using their homes now—and predictions on how the pandemic will affect the interior design landscape going forward.

Here are our 5 predictions on the future of our homes!

work from home office moon wallpaper ladder desk

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Prediction #1: Home Offices are Here to Stay

2020 was the year of the home office, as a huge amount of offices shifted to employees working remotely. But even as our world has begun to open back up again, many companies are keeping some of their remote work policies in place—some allowing employees to opt for fully remote positions, others offering hybrid models that include working from home part-time. With that, we’re confident that home offices are here to stay.

At Modsy, home office design projects were one of our most popular rooms in 2020, and requests for these spaces have not slowed down. Some clients are transforming spare rooms into permanent home offices, while others are integrating more flexible working spaces into their homes as they go back to corporate offices part-time. No matter if it’s a designated space or a hybrid office, we’re predicting that home offices are here to stay!

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Looking to create or upgrade your own home office?

Check out our home office checklist for a list of all of the essentials for a productive office. You can also explore the different types of desks for your needs, check out our guide on how to create a home office without a spare room, find cloffice design tips if you want to transform a closet into a mini home office and small apartment home office ideas for when you live in a small space. And if you just want some visual inspiration, check out our home office design ideas!

coastal modern living room natural textured chairs

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Prediction #2: Open-Concept Spaces Will Decrease in Popularity

Open-concept floor plans have been hugely popular in the past few decades. In the early aughts, home design moved from traditional layouts to more open, free-flowing spaces. And the rise in TV renovation shows, where hosts would knock out walls and open up main floors only fed the frenzy for open-concept home design. It seemed that every home improvement show featured clients looking for big, open kitchens that were open to living and dining spaces.

But while these open spaces are great for entertaining and family life, they didn’t weather the storm of the pandemic quite so well. Having all that exposed, open space is difficult when your entire world becomes reduced to just your home. Instead of having separate spaces for homeschooling, working, lounging, and working out, in an open-concept home all of these activities took place in the same multipurpose space. What once made a home feel more expansive suddenly made it feel more cramped. After 2020, many people have a new appreciation for walls, doors, and enclosed spaces. And we’re predicting that this desire for privacy and separation will continue.

Fun Fact: Open kitchens didn’t actually become popular because of their functionality in being open to other spaces in the home. It was actually the fact that they were constantly featured on home improvement shows! Turning an enclosed space, separate from the rest of the home, into an open one meant demo work was needed. Shows used these segments to attract a wider audience—specifically men. Tearing down walls and cabinets and having a dramatic reveal makes for good television, after all!

pink couch purple wallpaper glam living room

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Prediction #3: Bold, Fun, and Celebratory Trends Are Coming in Hot

There are still plenty of uncertainties and fears flying around in the wake of the pandemic—but with the world opening up and being able to see friends and family again, it’s hard not to celebrate! There’s a general mood of hope and new beginnings out there, after more than a year of darkness and isolation.

We’re seeing this celebratory sentiment take root in interior design trends, which are becoming bolder and more personality-packed. There’s an air of playfulness and positivity that’s being reflected in home design. Some people started bringing this sense of joy into their homes during the pandemic as a way to lift their spirits, by wallpapering, painting, and adding eclectic elements to their homes. But today, we’re seeing more and more people embrace these bold, playful trends. Some of our favorites? Botanical designs, rainbow nurseries, and bold wall colors!

transitional living room

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Prediction #4: Modern Design Styles Will Usurp the Traditional Trend

Ahh the ever present trend cycle. It’s always raising up a trend from the past, only to take it away again a year or two later! We’ve talked before about the push-and-pull between modern, forward-looking trends and traditional, historical ones. In times of uncertainty, the general public tends to look to the past for inspiration and strength—which resulted in traditional design rising in popularity not just in 2020 but even in the unstable years prior. You can see that in the popularity of Cottagecore, Grandmillenial style, and even the resurgence of the 90s-inspired Traditional Comfort look, which all rose to the top of the trend lists.

However, in times when the future looks bright, modern styles become more popular. You can see this historically by looking to the 1950s when, after WWII, Mid-Century Modern style was booming. With that in mind, we’re predicting that modern, futuristic design will have a comeback moment, and more forward-looking styles will become popular once again.

beige dining room neutral color scheme

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Prediction #5: Entertaining is Back

No more quarantine! No more social distancing! We can finally host again—and we’re predicting a major rise in people wanting to create cozy, comfortable spaces to entertain. In fact, at Modsy, we’re seeing a rise in requests for entertainment spaces. Important aspects of these rooms? Good flow, home bars, and intimate conversational seating. Plus, people are looking for plenty of storage space to keep their homes neat and organized when guests come over.

With more entertaining in the future, along with so much time still spent at home, we’re also seeing an uptick in requests for leather furniture and pieces in performance fabrics. THere’s a desire for rooms that look beautiful but are durable and comfortable—ideal features both for when you’re hosting and when you’re just cozied up at home with your family.

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Design History: Celebrating 100 Years of Art Deco Design

You may or may not follow trends—but they probably show up in your life (or your Instagram feed) in some way. No matter how you feel about them, there’s no denying that cultural trends play a role in our lives. When it comes to interior design, popular trends definitely impact how we choose to decorate our homes, whether consciously or not.

But interior design trends, like any trend, evolve organically and tend to follow cyclical patterns. Meaning? Different styles rise and decline in popularity, then eventually rise again. It’s almost guaranteed that something that was once popular will eventually find its way back to the spotlight.

One such trend, which has had several moments in the trend spotlight over the last century, is Art Deco design.

Art Deco is an iconic design style that showed up on the scene in the early 1900s. A bit over-the-top, it’s known for its use of luxurious materials and geometric patterns. This style originated in France (one more reason to love it), then spread throughout Europe and America in the 1920s. And that’s when this style became an icon.

art deco design

What is Art Deco design?

If you don’t know what exactly “art deco” is, don’t worry—you’ve likely seen it somewhere before but just didn’t know what you were looking at. A prime example? The lavish interiors of The Great Gatsby.

A style that’s all about opulence and drama, Art Deco combines modern styles with high-end craftsmanship and luxurious materials. It celebrates symmetry and rectilinear forms through vertical lines, smooth and streamlined surfaces, and geometric patterns such as zigzags, chevrons, and starbursts.

Much more than just an interior design style, the Art Deco movement influenced the design of whole buildings, as well as automobiles, jewelry, fashion, and so much more. There are some beautiful and iconic examples of Art Deco architecture—including famous edifices like the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and the Bullocks Wilshire building in LA.

The entrance to the Strand Palace Hotel, designed by Oliver P. Bernard in 1930.

Art Deco: A Brief History

First appearing in France just before WWI, Art Deco was a design style that paired newly developed materials with historically luxurious ones. Think: ivory, mahogany, and shagreen alongside chrome and plate-glass. With this mixing of materials, furniture and decor moved beyond mere function and pieces were transformed into sculptures that mimicked architecture. With that, the style was born.

The Art Deco movement significantly grew in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, embodying the zeitgeist of that time period. The 1920s was a decade of opulence and advancement. The United States economy was booming, technological advances were on the rise, and culture was in the throes of the jazz age. Art Deco reflected the luxury, wealth, and excess of the 1920s.

As America moved into the Great Depression after the market crash in 1929, the movement became a symbol of hope for the future. During this era, Hollywood films exemplified the Art Deco style and continued to strengthen its associations with wealth, luxury, and the prosperous future. Art Deco artists and architects also celebrated the idea of modern life and advances in technology through their use of new materials and emphasis on luxury.

In the United States, Art Deco style was mostly used in civic and public buildings, as you can see from some of our favorites above. Meanwhile, residential homeowners and architects were slower to embrace new styles, so you won’t see this style as much in residential buildings.

Art Deco declined as a trend around the time of WWII, as Americans favored practicality and reserve over opulence and excess. And the postwar era continued to support more practical, everyday designs, which ultimately led toward the Mid-Century Modern design movement.

Art Deco in the 80s

The 1980s was another period of wealth in America, and Art Deco reemerged as a popular design style. During the 80s, there was a love for gold finishes and luxurious (or at least luxurious-looking) materials, like black marble and brass, as well as the reinterpretation of Art Deco patterns. This not only showed up in architecture and interior design but you can also see the geometric and angular designs of 1920s Art Deco in 80s fashion and jewelry.

Read This Next: Trend Spotlight – The 80s are Back

moody living room designed with contemporary take on art deco interior design

Art Deco Today

Today, we continue to see our culture pulling from the past for design inspiration and mixing in different eras in an eclectic way. Designers today are finding new ways to revive the Art Deco trend in interior design. In furniture, we’re seeing a lot of pieces with sculptural lines, both curved and geometric. In rugs, wallpaper, and upholstery, geometric patterns echoing some of the great Art Deco designs are plentiful. There’s also a rise in investing in higher-quality or more unique materials in furniture, like marble and burl wood—and gold accents are everywhere. Art Decor has particularly always been incredibly popular in Miami interior design.

It seems fitting that Art Deco is a popular style once again, as we’re now passing the 100-year mark of its original debut. The 2020s may not be as roaring (in a good way) as the 1920s, but one thing is for sure: Art Deco style is here to stay.

Design Your Art Deco Dream Home

Love the look of Art Deco Interior Design of the 1920s, but not sure how it would look in your space? Use our design services to try it on! Since Art Deco style is all about high-contrast and dramatic spaces, our designers can help you find furniture in rich materials—like velvets, leathers, marbles, and concrete. And they can guide you toward statement home accents with chrome or brass details, decorative inlay, smoked glass, or Art Deco-inspired geometric shapes!

Want to learn more about Modsy before you commit? Browse our Interior Design 101 page to learn more about why so many people choose Modsy over traditional interior designers!

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The Render Episode 6: How to Shelter In Place Like a Victorian

Welcome to the visual companion for the sixth episode of The Render. The Render is a podcast hosted by Modsy’s very own Alessandra Wood and Maddy Warner, and is all about the untold stories from the world of interior design.

In the sixth episode, Maddy and Alessandra give us a bit of a history lesson on Victorian lifestyles and interior design. This is a group of people whose lives were centered on their homes. As such, there’s quite a bit we can learn from the Victorians about how to shelter in place without losing our minds!

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The Render is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

We’re about six months into our COVID-19 reality that causes us to spend most of our time at home. While perhaps we’ve adjusted to this new reality more than we had in early April, most of us have probably had moments where we’ve lost it. And not just emotionally. There’s a frustration when your home—what was once your sanctuary from the stresses of life—has now become…well, your whole life. We can’t escape the reality that our modern homes weren’t created to house all these different uses and activities. But, as time goes on and there’s no sign of anything going back to “normal” any time soon, it’s time to fully embrace the season of life we’re in.

So, in our sixth episode of the Render, Alessandra and Maddy look at a group of people who knew a thing or two about spending the majority of their time at home: The Victorians. We’ll look at their lifestyle and how their homes reflected and served that lifestyle. And we’ll even learn a bit about how we can take some of their practices and implement them into our newly cloistered lives! Because, the longer we’re in quarantine, the more like the Victorians we become!

What is the Victorian Era?

What is commonly referred to as the Victorian era is the period of time that coincides with the reign of England’s Queen Victoria. She was queen from 1837 to 1901 and was quite the influential monarch.

Queen Victoria: The Original Influencer

In fact, Queen Victoria could probably be considered one of the original influencers. Whatever she thought was hot spread like wildfire across England and the rest of the Western world. Everybody was looking at what she was doing and copying it.

Victorian design historyQueen Victoria’s Engagement Ring

One example? Her engagement ring. It was a serpent ring, given to her by her husband, Prince Albert. It was shaped like a serpent (nothing says romance like a snake, right?) and included small rubies and diamond, as well as a larger emerald. Actually, it was a bit more romantic that it may sound, as serpents were a symbol of eternity at the time—so, eternal, undying love and all that. This serpent-style ring became a very popular form of engagement ring at the time—and even today they’re actually making a comeback. Not as engagement rings, but as a piece of statement jewelry.

Victorian design historyThe Modern Christmas Tree

She’s also known for popularizing the Christmas tree as we know it today. There was an image of an evergreen tree decorated with candles in her palace, which sparked an adoption of this tradition across England and America and influences how we celebrate Christmas today!

A Cultural Shift

Culturally, the Victorian era came on the heels of the Georgian era—an era all about science and enlightenment. And the Victorians? They had a bit of a cultural reaction to all this advancement and pushed back a bit. As a result, religion—especially Christianity—sees a major rise in popularity. Victorians were very spiritual and emotional people who leaned upon the romantic and sentimental.

How Did Victorians Decorate Their Homes?

All of this emotion and sentimentality had quite the impact on interior design. When we look at Victorian interior design trends, we see a lot of dark patterns and intricate details. Detailed woodwork and carvings. Tassels. Lots of drapery and wallpaper. Bric-à-brac.


Bric-à-brac is a word that signifies small, decorative accessories. Other terms: trinkets, knick knacks, tchotchkes.

Victorians were collectors. In a Victorian home, you’d likely see shelves full of collections, whether that’s thimbles, Staffordshire dogs, collectible teaspoons, vases, you name it. Some people might collect a million of the same thing, others might find delight in a vast mix of objects. And bric-à-brac is the word—first coined in the Victorian era, actually—that encompasses these decorative collections of household ornamentation.

In addition to their collections of knick knacks, they also just tended to cover every surface. Tabletops were covered in tablecloths or doilies. Walls (and sometimes even ceilings) were covered in patterned wallpaper. Architecturally, ornate moldings were very popular. Essentially, especially among the upper middle class and upper class, a home was a place to really show off material wealth and personality.

Home As a Reflection of Self

We talked in episode 4 of the podcast that the French Rococo period of the late 18th century was when interior design as we know it first emerged, as a separate practice from architectural design. It was an era of opulence, when one could really show off their wealth through their home’s interior design.

We see this show up in Victorian architecture and design in a slightly different way. Yes, Victorians loved ornate design. But home wasn’t just a showpiece—it was a space that was really meant to be lived in. As a result, there was much more personalization to Victorian-era homes. With their penchant for collections and sentimentality, their homes truly became a reflection of self in a way that had never been seen in interior design before.

They used their homes to reflect their wealth, yes. But also to reflect their hobbies and interests, their culture, and their taste.

Victorian design historyHome As The Center Of A Person’s Life

In the Victorian era and the time periods before it, a home was really the center of a person’s life, in a way we haven’t seen since then. (Until, perhaps, now as we’re all stuck at home!) If you had a farm, you were actually producing what you needed from your land. If you lived in a large Victorian house in a small town or a small city, you might have had a staff that was cooking and cleaning for you—and they were actually the people who might be going out for groceries and supplies. So, much of life centered on the home and the property around it.

Of course, people would certainly leave their homes for entertainment. This was the era of fancy balls, after all! But these weren’t overly common occurrences. By and large, people’s lives centered around their homes and social visits to other people’s homes.

Little Women

If you’ve read Little Women or seen any of the movie adaptations, you’ve seen the way that home was the center of life for the March sisters. Yes, they went to balls and made social calls. But so much of their lives centered on being home. Home was where they cleaned and cooked, of course. But it’s also where they practiced their hobbies—like reading, needlework, playing the piano, writing, and painting—as well as where they put on “wild theatrics” for friends and family.

The Public Sphere vs. The Private Sphere

Out of the Victorian era was developed an idea of separation between the public and private spheres. The public sphere is everything that’s outside your home. The Victorian era was in a post-industrial revolution reality. More people in lower classes were leaving their home for work than ever before—spending long days in factories and mines. In an industrialized world, the public sphere suddenly becomes a scarier place—one that’s loud, scary, and dirty. Jack the Ripper is wandering around, murdering people at random for goodness sake! So, the public sphere begins to be somewhat demonized.

In this culture, where there’s a fear of “weaker people” (AKA women and children) going out on their own, the private sphere really developed as the realm of women. This is, in fact, when the idea of home becomes gendered.

Victorian design historyThe American Woman’s Home

Books and periodicals started to come out during the latter half of the 19th century that were guidebooks for women on how to live in and run their homes. The American Woman’s Home: Or, Principles of Domestic Science; Being A Guide to the Formation and Maintenance of Economical, Healthful, Beautiful, and Christian Homes by Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. This book, and others like it, was essentially a companion to what was happening in the public spheres as a place of work and professionalizing how women run their homes.

While, before this time period, architecture was a male-dominated industry, in the Victorian era the realm of “home” shifted to being a female sphere. Women took on the role of decorating their homes, which starts to become explicitly linked to the “women’s realm” and women really owning that home space.

Even today, we see some of those stereotypes continuing to exist, where interior design is viewed as more feminine. But, fortunately, our culture is redefining our own gender stereotypes and pushing against that notion.

So, with all this in mind, what can we learn from the Victorians about sheltering in place?

The Importance of Privacy

One of the key components of a Victorian home? Lots of room. (No open floor plans here!) During the Victorian era, privacy was a core component of the home, and there was this idea that private time really helped a person develop their own intellectual prowess. Having the opportunity for privacy and being comfortable with oneself was an important aspect of personal development that we see Victorians leaning into. And we see this value reflected in the way they constructed their homes.

Even in smaller homes—and certainly in larger homes—there were many separate and distinct rooms. So, a living space was separate from a dining room, which was most certainly separated from the kitchen. And the kitchen itself might have sub-spaces, with a butler’s pantry being separated from the main cooking area. And you’d never enter directly into a living space from the front door. Rather, homes had vestibules or entrance halls, and from there you could make an entrance into the living room or parlor.

All of this separation of spaces allowed for each person within the home to develop their own interests and pursuits, to have time for self-reflection, and simply to stay sane in a home occupied by so many other people.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Find Spaces Of Privacy In Your Own Home

Most of us don’t have this kind of built-in separation and privacy in our own homes. And this certainly isn’t a time that most of us are going to undertake major renovations. But there are a few things we can implement in our own homes that take that spirit and apply it to our modern lives.

We’re currently spending much of our time at home. As such, there’s a definite need for separation, especially between work and the rest of life. But within work, there’s a need for private space for being on calls and doing work that requires more concentration.

The “Cloffice”

This has resulted in the rise of the “cloffice.” (AKA the closet office.) For those of you who have walk-in closets in your home, consider clearing out part of it for a workspace. At Modsy, we’ve also seen a lot more people request desks and workstations being added to their bedroom design. (Something people have been somewhat against the past couple years as they were looking to create more separation between work and sleep.) But, with the state of the world today, it makes sense for people to make use of a room that otherwise wouldn’t be used during the day—and to be able to work in a room that has a door you can shut to separate yourself from what’s happening in the rest of the house.

Don’t be afraid to make semi-permanent changes to your home to make it work for your life today. You can always change it when you go back to the office and your kids go back to school. But, until then, you should invest some time into creating spaces in your home that really work for your needs. This can have a really material effect on your well-being at home right now.

Different Rooms With Different Purposes

Connected to the idea of valuing privacy within the home is the idea of carving out distinct space for distinct uses. Of course, this was easier to do in a home with so many distinct rooms. But the idea was that each room within a Victorian’s home had a different purpose. Not only did they leverage different rooms for privacy and their own individual intellectual development, but as a family they leveraged different spaces for different uses throughout the day.

So, in a large home you would have a distinct front hall for welcoming guests, with a separate parlour for entertaining them. This is where you’d have all of your fanciest and most ornate decor, so as to thoroughly impress all who entered. You would also, perhaps, have a piano or organ in this room for some rousing musical entertainment. A drawing room, on the other hand, would be a less formal gathering space for the family when no guests were over. This is where a family would gather after dinner for games, music, and reading.

The gentleman of the house might have a study, where he could close the door and conduct business. In larger homes, each person probably had a dressing room in addition to their bedroom. While a bedroom was used strictly for sleeping, your dressing room would not only be for getting dressed and ready for the day, but might be where a young lady takes her breakfast and writes letters.

And then, of course, every home had a formal dining room, that was in a separate place in the home from your kitchen, butler’s pantry, and scullery. Some homes even had formal dining spaces and more casual dining spaces for different meals or occasions.

Essentially, Victorians had different spaces that truly had different uses—so, they ended up “travelling” through their home throughout the day, depending on what activity they were undertaking or who they were talking to.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Establish Realms and Zones

There are so many new uses being incorporated into our homes this year, which is causing us to have to expand how we use our space, even if our space itself is not expanding. Our homes are now not only where we eat and sleep, but they’re where we work, where our kids attend school, our gyms, playgrounds, libraries, movie theaters. We’re doing all these different activities in our homes—but the reality is that most of us probably aren’t like the Victorians, with a different room for each activity or need. So, how can we translate this idea into the modern home?

It comes down to identifying and carving out spaces and rituals within the space that you have. So, maybe you have a large, open-concept living room. In the pre-pandemic world, you used this space to watch Netflix a few times a week, and maybe it’s also where you hosted wine or game nights with friends. In our current reality, you might find yourself sitting at a desk in your living room during the workday, then sitting on the sofa watching more Netflix than you ever thought you could watch. Not only that, but it’s also become the space for board games or puzzles, your kid’s playroom, and maybe your home gym. That’s a lot of uses for one space!

You probably aren’t going to throw up a wall to create a few distinct rooms into one—but you can adjust your layout to create a more “zoned” space. Create context clues for your brain, so that when you move to a different space within your living room, your brain knows that you’re switching to a different task or activity. So, create a true workstation around your desk, and know that when you’re sitting at your desk, it’s work time. Then, when you transition to your sofa in the evening, your brain will know that it’s time to relax. Perhaps you want to add a reading nook to your living room that’s a screen-free-zone—and whenever you sit in that chair, you know it’s time to set your phone down and open up a book or magazine. Or maybe it’s keeping a bit of floor space cleared, so you know you’ll always have space to unroll your yoga mat, creating a lower barrier-to-entry to working out. You could also float your sofa and use that as a way to break up the space, or even add a room-divider screen to create some zones.

Routines & Rituals

Victorians had a lot of routines and rituals built into their lives. One major area we can see this is in how their sleep cycles were more aligned with the natural clock. They certainly used candles and lamps in the evenings, and wealthy families might have gas lighting, but since they didn’t have electricity, in general their lives were much more tied to when the sun rose and set.

There was also a sense of ritual in this; the Victorians were big on window coverings, so in the evenings they’d go around their homes and pull the drapes. THen, before bed, they’d have to blow out all the candles. In the morning, they’d upen up their drapes and shutters and let the daylight flood in since they couldn’t just turn on the lights. These little cues signified a rhythm and ritual of a day starting or ending.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Embrace Routines and Rituals

This is something we can learn from the Victoirans—especially during a time when we don’t actually have anywhere outside our homes that we need to be. Our normal routines have been completely dismantled. So, it’s easy to think we can just stay up later and then sleep in—but this can really mess with our body’s clock. With electricity and constant access to technology, we don’t have the same built-in clues to when we should go to bed and get up each day. So, it’s important to create them.

Try creating a routine for yourself where you go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, make that part of your morning ritual. Does your brain need help signifying it’s time to go to work? Putting on real clothes, or even putting shoes or lipstick on, might be a great way to signal your brain that it’s work time, even if you’re not leaving your home. If you’re using your dining room table as a desk or a homeschooling zone, consider packing everything up in a crate or tray each evening, and putting it away so you can mentally end your school and work days and also continue using your table for meals. Maybe, in place of a commute, you take yourself on a walk at the end of each workday.

All of these little rituals and routines help create mental boundaries for us which can help keep us sane when every day feels the same! Essentially, you’re using the visual space around you to train your brain that it’s time to shift modes.

Hobbies, Personal Development, and “Fun”

The Victorians desired to be a cultured people and spent a lot of time on personal development. Especially for the wealthier classes, there was a high value placed on learning languages, being able to hold your own in a conversation or discussion, and for women an ability to show domestic prowess through sewing, needlepoint, knitting, or crocheting.

Victorian design historyMusical ability was also highly valued. Music—especially singing and playing the piano or organ, was not only a form of personal development but also offered a way for your family to come around and find entertainment together. Remember, they didn’t have TVs. But they had plenty of sing-alongs and musical performances to keep themselves entertained!

The Lesson We Can Learn: Take On a New Hobby And Learn Something New

Ok, so maybe you won’t end up learning how to play the piano forte with all this extra time at home. But, like the Victoirans, we can use this time for hobbies and learning—both for diversion and for personal development. Today’s equivalent might be taking a Masterclass or Skillshare course, or learning a new language. Perhaps is working through a new cookbook or learning to bake a fancy dessert. For you grandmillenials out there, it might even be taking up the very Victoiran hobby of needlepoint!

While there will certainly be days and weeks the mental strength it takes to choose a show to watch is all we can muster, there will also be better weeks. And there’s something gratifying about using that time constructively and feeling like you’ve really accomplished something.

The key to making these hobbies more a part of your routine is to make them more accessible. So, set up a recurring appointment in your calendar to tune into a masterclass. Keep a basket of knitting or needlepoint supplies by your sofa so you can pick it up while you watch TV or talk with your roommates. Or dedicate one night a week to trying new recipes. Making a ritual of your new hobby will help it to stick.


When you look back at the Victorians, “comfort” is probably not the first word that comes to mind. These were the days of corsets and hoop skirts, after all! But there was something about their overall lifestyle that was geared toward comfort—just in a very different way than we define it today.

In fashion, at the turn of the 20th century, restrictive clothing started loosening up so that people (especially women) became physically more comfortable.


You can also see the value they placed on comfort by how they filled and decorated their homes. As we mentioned earlier, their rooms were filled with knick knacks that brought them joy. And they loved drapery, and they layered their homes with upholstery and tapestries that added a sense of comfort and softness to their spaces. They wanted to create homes that were comfortable and inviting. In fact, in this time period, we do start seeing furniture that’s a bit more overstuffed and padded, that would allow someone to do a bit of lounging and relaxing. And even if a Victorian home doesn’t seem remotely comfortable to us, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t to them, in their cultural context.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Lean Into Comfort

Both fashion and interior design have become much more casual since Victorian times. But we can certainly take the notion that the Victorians valued—caring about creating a space that feels comfortable—and apply that to our own context. In spending so much extra time at home, you might be noticing parts of your home that aren’t comfortable for your current lifestyle.

Our advice? Don’t be afraid to make a few changes! Whether it’s incorporating more drapery for coziness, layering more throw pillows onto your sofa, getting a new rug for more softness underfoot, or upgrading your dining room chairs to something more comfortable. This is also a great time to consider if your current mattress is working for you. If not, consider investing in a new one, or getting a memory foam topper to make it more comfortable! You could also upgrade your bedding to make your bed feel more luxurious. It might even be time to get a real office chair for some lower lumbar support!

It’s all about finding little moments to introduce extra comfort into your daily routine.


Pomp & Circumstance

The Victorians sure knew how to make everyday feel special. Their lives were all about pomp and circumstance—AKA, infusing their days with a bit of luxury, that makes ordinary things feel more special. Victorians added this pomp and circumstance to their lives every day for dinner. (Or, at least, the more wealthy among them did.)

Looking at Downton Abbey is a great way to bring this picture to life. (Even though that show technically took place in the Edwardian period—but the idea still stands.) Every single night, the family gets dressed to the nines, just to have dinner. And this wasn’t because they were having guests over or hosting a party. No, it was just a regular Tuesday evening, but Lady Mary was wearing her very best dress and pearls.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Infuse Your Cloistered Life With Fun And Special Moments

Ok, so you’re probably not going to get dressed up in suits and evening gowns for dinner each night. But what would it look like to add more fun and even a bit more formality into your home to make each day feel more special? Today, the notion of pomp and circumstance can simply be the idea of breaking from the norm and layering on something exciting!

But what does it look like to make family meals feel more special? Perhaps you do want to dress up for dinner once a week and actually do your hair and makeup! (Maybe on the same night that you try out a new recipe as part of your new cooking hobby?) Maybe it’s creating the ritual of lighting candles for dinner every night and turning on some background music. And it doesn’t all have to revolve around the dinner table! It could also be infusing your home with hygge and splurging on a new candle or putting on a fancy outfit and popping champagne while watching reruns of The Office.

So, embrace the little moments of joy, because that’s all we can really do right now. And wear your mask!

Thanks for joining us for season 1 of The Render! We’ll dive back into season 2 this fall. So, if there are any topics you want us to cover, let us know by emailing us at or send us a DM on Instagram @modsydesign.


5 Iconic Christmas Tree Moments That Changed The Holidays

holiday decor ideasChristmas is just around the corner and we’re already feeling the holiday spirit take over. Christmas trees, for many people, are a staple when it comes to holiday decor. Decorating the tree with ornaments and stringing it with lights is a tradition found in many homes. But how did it all come to be?

For a fun little jaunt down memory lane, we’re taking a look at how tree trimming turned into a celebrated moment all over the world. Additionally, we’ve also included some of our favorite tree moments in holiday history. Read on for 5 iconic Christmas trees that’s made a mark in history.

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1. Queen Victoria’s Christmas Tree

If we’re going to talk about iconic Christmas trees and their best moments in holiday history, we’ve got to start from the beginning. While tree-decorating didn’t start with Queen Victoria, without her it wouldn’t be the same glittering holiday tradition.

The Backstory: Trees were a German tradition that her husband, Prince Albert, introduced to Victoria. In 1848 The London Illustrated News printed descriptions and sketches of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s Christmas tree and those all around Windsor castle. It set in motion the now-global tradition of decorating Christmas trees within the home.

Why We Love This Moment: Because can you imagine if we never got a glimpse of the Queen’s over-the-top Christmas tree? And the frenzy that ensued? No, neither can we.

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2. Charlie Brown’s Tree

No one will argue that A Charlie Brown Christmas was and will always be a heartwarming holiday favorite for kids and adults alike. It speaks to the holiday spirit with its adorable, and lighthearted (okay, maybe not super lighthearted at first) holiday spirit.

The Backstory: First aired in 1965, the animated TV special by Charles M. Schulz, based on his comic strip Peanuts, was at once a charming celebration of Christmas and a commentary on the commercialization of the holiday. Charlie Brown, who’s at the center of many of Schulz’s stories, picks a seemingly ugly tree to decorate. In the end, instead of bemoaning the sad state of the tree, Charlie Brown sends the message of optimism and hope by emphasizing it’s not the presents under the tree, but what’s around each Christmas tree (family, friends, love, the holiday spirit) that truly matters.

Why We Love This Moment: Since 1965, Charlie Brown has inspired naturalists everywhere to find beauty in all Christmas trees, even if they seem sparse and sad.

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3. The Silver Tinsel Tree

In the late 1950s the aluminum faux Christmas tree was born and gained popularity into the 1960s. An icon of the mid-century, the chrome-like trees symbolized the newness of the mid-century era and the ability to use materials, which were previously rationed during wartime, at will.

The Backstory: All the way up until 1965, the first year A Charlie Brown Christmas aired, aluminum trees were painted as symbols of the commercialization of the holiday. But their popularity waned in the following years. Although more recently we’ve seen a resurgence of these silver trees accompanying the revival of all things Mid-Century Modern in the 21st century.

Why We Love This Moment: Even though there’s no beating the look and smell of a real Christmas tree, who doesn’t love seeing these faux versions out in city streets and front lawns every year?

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4. The Rockefeller Center Tree

One of the most viewed Christmas trees in the U.S., the Rockefeller Center began its tree display tradition in 1931. A Norway spruce, this tree type is probably one of the most iconic and classic evergreens used for Christmas trees.

The Backstory: The first tree in 1931 was a small one. The workers at Rockefeller Center pooled their money to buy a tree as a symbol of hope during the Depression Era. Two years later, the tree lighting ceremony became an annual tradition, and it has progressively grown taller and grander over the years.

Why We Love This Moment: It’s an 80-foot-tall tree that’s fully lit and decked out and it’s viewed by over 125 million people during the holidays each year. It’s probably the most notable worldwide symbol of Christmas we can think of!


5. The Whoville Christmas Tree

From the ever beloved Dr. Seuss classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the tree in this holiday staple is often depicted as sagging with a drooping top. One of our favorite iconic Christmas trees, is shows a little wear and tear from being burglarized by Mr. Grinch and driven up a mountain before its eventual return to Whoville.

The Backstory: This holiday classic has a traditional feel-good story arc that’s stood the test of time. There have been multiple motion picture re-makes and a killer soundtrack, so there’s no denying the Grinch is a true holiday classic. Plus, it’s always whimsical, fun, and oh-so colorful!

Why We Love This Story: This is another timeless tale full of moral lessons—it’s not about the gifts, it’s about the holiday spirit!