Why Modern Design Is Perfect For Residence Halls

In Blog, Design Resource by Morgan Dix

Furniture design is a big inspiration for our work here at DCI. In this second part in our series on furniture design, we hone in on how the principles of modern design shape some of our collections here at DCI.

By the way, if you haven’t read the lead article in this series, I recommend you quickly catch up here. Part one features a brief history of modern furniture design.

You can find a lot of modern design influence in our furniture. But we have two collections that are designed explicitly as modern lines of furniture: Passeo and Martinez. As such, they feature a number of modern design hallmarks.

The Essence of Modern Furniture Design

What are those elements? Here’s a quick recap.

In the early 20th Century, modern design made a clean break from the heavy, ornate, and history-laden furniture design paradigms of the past and highlighted functionality, lightness in form, and geometrical lines and planes.

In essence, the form of the furniture emerged as the no-frills heart of the design. Form followed function.

As DCI Vice President Amos Kober describes it:

The core principles of this style make it ideal for residence halls, minimizing bulk to make small spaces feel more open. It allows us to mix materials and finishes while creating the clean lines of elegant beauty found in our Martinez and Paseo collections.

Modern Design at DCI

So how do we integrate these themes into our residence hall furniture? Here are some photos from recent projects which feature furniture from our Passeo and Martinez collections as well as a few others.

1. University of Pennsylvania

At Penn, the architecture of their state-of-the-art New College House residence hall is super modern.

Notice the geometric shape of the building with its angular overhanging roof, jutting support beams, and towering panes of glass with overlapping light-deflecting metal grid.

You can appreciate how the vertical panes of glass and the metal beams holding them in place are the design itself—clean, sleak, and functional. Likewise for the giant horizontal wooden support beams.

DCI Modern Furniture at University of PennsylvaniaThese keystones of the building design are almost soley functional. There’s little to no ornament. And yet they make for breathtaking design.

Similarly, the study desk we installed at Penn is functional and stylish. It rests on two metal legs with no modesty panel behind it.

The design is functional and transparent with a small visual footprint that emphasizes the space under the desk. The top of the desk is a slim rectangular solid wood box sitting on the metal legs to create a “floating” effect. That floating effect is trademark modern design.

2. The Martinez Collection

The Martinez Collection is a distinctly modern line of furniture with a special focus on the desk.

Like the desk above, this one has no modesty panel, immediately maximizing space in the room and minimizing the visual and formal footprint.

The rectangular steel legs undergird a thin rectangular box desktop creating that floating effect like the Penn desk.

And again, note the purposeful simplicity of the steel legs. The functionalilty itself, like the beams of a modern building, is a core design element.

Also, the Martinez desk features an overhanging top to emphasize space rather than bulk.

3. The Passeo Collection

The Passeo Collection emerged directly out of work with UCLA and Studios Architectural firm. There are several modern motifs to note in this line.

First, notice how the desk, sidetable, and dresser are all sitting on metal legs. The idea is to lighten—literally and figuratively—the footprint of the furniture.

In keeping with this effect, the desk has a floating pedestal which means that the drawers hover above the ground to give it a floating look.

With the bed, we’ve extended the lines of the furniture to create less bulk and more empty space.

Finally, the solid wood sidetables at the base of the bed play off the now-classic Bauhaus Nesting Side Tables designed by Joseph Albers in 1926.

Designed to work “independently and interdependently” of each other, they’re a living, functional embodiment of experimentation with geometry and form.

4. It’s A Breeze

Although our Breeze Collection is not one of our signature modern design lines, it is still spare, elegant, and simple with some classic modern design elements.

The sidetable and coffee table feature a transparent box with two open ends floating on a light metal geometric base. Although the boxes are sturdy solid hardwood, the effect is one of transparency and lightness.

This was just a quick overview of our modern designs here at DCI. In the next chapter of this series on residence hall furniture design, we’ll explore another style in depth. Stay tuned!

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