Embrace the postmodern interior design trend with one of these unconventional pieces

According to the Museum of Modern Art, Postmodernism refers to “a reaction against modernism. It is less a cohesive movement than an approach and attitude toward art, culture, and society.” Think of modern design’s clean lines and function-over-form approach, then turn it on its head. The museum adds:

“Its main characteristics include anti-authoritarianism, or refusal to recognize the authority of any single style or definition of what art should be; and the collapsing of the distinction between high culture and mass or popular culture, and between art and everyday life.”

Postmodern design when concerning interiors is something that’s fallen in and out of fashion over the decades, notably reaching a peak when the Memphis Group of Milan, Italy burst onto the scene with its bold geometric shapes, intense primary colors, and outré furniture and decor pieces that were loved and abhored in equal measure during the group’s run from 1980 to 1987. Famous devotees include fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and rock megastar David Bowie, but ultimately the works of the group became quickly locked into their specific era and fell out of fashion.

And yet the past few years have seen a resurgence in interest in objects that would find themselves right at home alongside the group’s designs, as well as a more pastel-toned interpretation of postmodernism in the contemporary age. Check out one of our favorite Instagram accounts, @VintageShowPony, for a Golden Girls-inspired look that centers the Art Deco revival of the 1980s – a perfect complement to postmodernism’s camp and flamboyance.

Should you already be deeply committed to modern design, a great way to incorporate this trend is to pick up a couple of decor items that are unconventional in shape or size but crafted from natural materials (think wicker or wood) to blend nicely into your existing setup. We hit on this a bit further down with an elephant-shaped planter, but a general search for postmodern decor or furniture on sites like eBay, Etsy or Chairish will bring up treasure troves of fantastic vintage pieces that you can sometimes find for a decent score. Even Facebook Marketplace can be a worthwhile hunting ground!

Overall, the postmodernism trend allows you to enjoy a bit of whimsy. You don’t need a cow-shaped footstool, but you don’t not need one either! And why not add a pair of luscious lips to your entrway wallscape? It’s freeing, and fun, and nostalgic for many, and it’s a callback to less harsh economic and world crisis times when the biggest worry some of us seemed to have was whether to serve white or red at our dinner party. Embracing the absurd with postmodernism is a small, quiet act of rebellion that might help you snap out of a design rut and inspire new, interesting avenues in all areas of your life.

If you’re intrigued and want to see more, keep reading to see some pieces we’ve chosen to start your redecorating journey now. And feel free to revisit this piece on maximalism from earlier this year for even more inspo.

Amier Geometric Handmade Tufted Area Rug in Black/Ivory

Wrought Studio

Amier Geometric Handmade Tufted Area Rug in Black/Ivory

Postmodern design should react to the clean, predictable lines of its predecessor, modernism, and this rug achieves exactly that by incorporating topsy-turvy lines in a graphic black-and-white color scheme.

Wrought Studio

Herald Square 28” Wide Velvet Swivel Barrel Chair

Orren Ellis

Herald Square 28” Wide Velvet Swivel Barrel Chair

While postmodern masters The Memphis Group mass-manufactured a chair that would become an iconic representation of the style, it’s also a notoriously uncomfortable chair that is prone to tipping! Embrace the style with something sturdier and just as attractive – not to mention much, much more affordable – with this orange delight from Orren Ellis.

Orren Ellis

Red 3D Paper Lips Wall Art

Papercraft World

Red 3D Paper Lips Wall Art

Over the-top in an unexpected material, paper, this 3D wall art makes any wall immediately more special than before. Everyone’s doing a gallery wall these days, but the added dimension will set yours apart.

Papercraft World

Simmer Stone Wave Pattern Irregular Makeup Mirror

Simmer Stone

Wave Pattern Irregular Makeup Mirror

A compact version inspired by a Memphis Group design, this wave pattern mirror is a cheap and functional way to incorporate a postmodern feel into spaces of any size. It comes in a variety of colorways, too, including an LED white option that lights up to help you see more clearly as you ready yourself for the day.

Stimmer Stone

Postmodern Tessellated Stone Circular Glass Top Side Tables – a Pair

Chairish

Postmodern Tessellated Stone Circular Glass Top Side Tables – a Pair

One of the most iconic pieces to come out of postmodernism in home decor are these tessellated stone tables. This particular pair is true vintage and in exceptional condition, making the sub-$1000 especially impressive! Plus, Chairish offers coupons for joining their email list and every dollar counts when you’re building a collection.

Chairish

Shell Pearl Light LED Accent Lamp

Imikeya

Shell Pearl Light LED Accent Lamp

As a proud owner of this iridescent cutie, I can safely confirm it’s as charming in person as it is in this picture. The LED light ball isn’t going to illuminate your bedroom by any means (form over function, remember) but the ambiance and decorative merit is off the charts.

Imikeya

Natural Rattan Elephant Basket Planter

Likhâ

Natural Rattan Elephant Basket Planter

An on-trend way to incorporate postmodern sensibility into your decor is to take something totally unexpected – like an elephant planter – and do it in natural textures like this rattan option to keep it warm and inviting in your space. This little guy from Likhâ is perfectly adorable for any room in your home, and it’s carefully handwoven by artisans in the Philippines. It comes in a brighter two-tone color combo, as well!

​Likhâ

Perfume Counter Paradise Print

Luxury Dept. Store

Perfume Counter Paradise Print

The Luxury Dept. Store Instagram account is the stuff of dreams, evoking an urgent sense of romantic nostalgia that smells exactly like the Calvin Klein Obsession you see here. Fans of the account can now buy high-quality prints directly from LDS, including this glamorous, idealized scene of a pristine vintage cosmetics counter. It comes in three different sizes and with or without a border, and prices start at just s $7 – all you need is a thin gold frame to complete the magic.

Luxury Dept. Store

Amarantha 14” Wide Velvet Animal Print Standard Ottoman

Union Rustic

Amarantha 14” Wide Velvet Animal Print Standard Ottoman

Like we mentioned above, this little guy is completely absurd but feels right at home when you’re welcoming the absurd. Try it out and enjoy its functionality and yeehaw charm.

Union Rustic