There are perhaps three ways of looking at furniture: some people see it as purely functional and useful, and don’t bother themselves with aesthetics; others see it as essential to civilized living and concern themselves with design and how the furniture will look in a room – in other words, function combined with aesthetics; and yet others see furniture as a form of art.
In the past, designers of furniture usually worked for royalty, the nobility, landowners and rich merchants and so were not constrained by the limits of space, economy, or even practicality that inhibit the contemporary designer. Indeed, function was not the first consideration and interiors did not always have to be practical. In the Renaissance, for example, fine furniture and interiors were designed to show off not only the riches of the owners, but their learning, wisdom and good taste as well. No doubt, this attitude still exists among a number of the wealthy.
Apart from a brief period in the 20th century when furniture designers mistook themselves for artists and sculptors, producing, say, chairs that were nice to look at, but impossible to sit on comfortably, modern designers have, for the most part, come to terms with the functional aspect of furniture. These days, a well-designed interior must be practical and exclude what is unnecessary. Limited space must be used imaginatively, and a sense of space and clarity is needed as a setting for efficient living. Therefore, in the modern home, furniture should fulfil a specific purpose, and need as little care and attention as possible. In addition to this, costs must be kept to a minimum because, these days, there are many luxuries competing for our attention. Function and economy, therefore, are of the utmost importance.
According to the text, how does modern furniture design differ from that of the past?