Two newer homes. Both are Modern (as in: recently built; Ye Ole Castle in 2021) but only one is Modernist.
Many years ago when I was to start my blog “The Modernist Angle”, we discussed the two terms "Modern"and "Modernist" in my office at length: which is which, and why is that so?
In researching the terminology, I came upon an interesting forum where architects and professionals differentiated between the two terms carefully, "modernist" referring to a style or aesthetic, "modern" to something current:
“Takeaway lesson: There's an important difference between 'modern' and 'modernist'. Modern means nothing more than 'current' or 'recent'. Modernist means ... the ideology of modernism, ... an aesthetic movement”. (–Ray Sawhill, on the Visual Resources Association Forum)
Adding to the point:
“Modernist is ultimately a more valuable and specific term for us than the more generic Modern. Modernist is our stylistic term of choice, whereas Modern seems more like a state of mind.” (–Dane A. Johnson, Visual Resource Coordinator, College of Architecture and Design, Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI, on the Visual Resources Association Forum).
Thus, a mid-century design by Neutra, Breuer or Mies for example should really be referred to as Mid-Century Modernist.
Though nobody does that, as a client reminded me when he snubbed all homes older than five years, disregarding their modernist styles. In colloquial use the term Modern is the clear preference.
So my firm’s residential part is named “Modern Florida Homes”, and its mission is “Brokering, Promoting and Preserving Modern Homes and Architecture”.
But in any context where one can discuss, explain and elaborate, I prefer Modernist as the correct and more precise term.
A fun question to ask your favourite architect, isn’t it? You do have one, don't you?
“Modern or Modernist?" by Tobias Kaiser, CC BY-NC-ND - Photos: Beaches-MLS
Tobias Kaiser works as an independent real estate broker and consultant in Florida since 1990. Always putting his clients' interest first, he specialises in modern Florida homes and architecture, as well as net leased investments.