Classical objects and elements, such as dated sceneries, medieval symbols, and paintings from the Renaissance, dominate the themes found on most hanging tapestries. This is easily understandable, as they bring an elegant feel to the home and go well with almost any motif, from Oriental to Mediterranean.
As a case in point, a tapestry depicting a unicorn or a typical 16th century Venetian street will complement any living room regardless of color scheme. This speaks of the design’s flexibility in terms of purpose. It is also borne out of the fact that, historically, tapestries originated from the medieval times, when they used to adorn castles and royal halls. This becomes obvious with the multitude of crests and coat of arms that are common design elements in tapestries.
There are homeowners, however, who opt out of the traditional modes of wall tapestries and go for a modern and contemporary feel. These are forward-thinking people who choose the modern look of minimalist and abstract designs when decorating their homes.
If classical tapestries feature portraits of well-known kings, historic battles, and representative events from centuries past, contemporary tapestries depict normal, everyday people and things. If tapestries of olden times depict peasants harvesting grapes to be made into wine, or typical Victorian architecture with women in distinctive period clothes, contemporary tapestries portray modern cityscapes, a scene in a beach perhaps, or a family of the 1990s without the smugness and tight-lipped quality that characterize family portraits in the past. Modern replicas of classic works of art found in world-famous museums also fall under contemporary tapestries.
A distinctive element of contemporary tapestries is the use of patterns. Geometric prints, intersecting lines, and abstract shapes that seem to defy explanation and any clear unity in imagery are enjoying a revival in similarly modern homes. These tapestries are in the minority, amidst a barrage of classical ones that show a discernible object or scene. Nevertheless, they serve a unique purpose. They are perfect in homes of visionaries who try to shy away from themes that trap their homes in the design of any particular era. The focus is on the now.
The variations in contemporary tapestries are quite unlimited. Circular patterns, a group of multi-colored boxes, or even a discernible plethora of squiggly lines can make for an acceptable design. It is interesting to note that some Asian-themed tapestries also make use of patterns, intricate and always colorful. These elements usually go with a central object, like an elephant or a pagoda, and the patterns are relegated to the background.
Talking about color schemes and the overall design concepts, contemporary tapestries are perfect for homes that are liberal in the use of color. In contrast to medieval tapestries that stick to hues of gold and bronze, and to Asian tapestries that incorporate shades of red and gold, there are no color schemes necessary to call a design contemporary. In the same manner, classical furniture such as gold-plated chairs and intricately designed tables will clash with a wall tapestry that uses pink and orange patterns.
Other than the subject, there is also a difference in how contemporary tapestries are made. If antique tapestries are handmade, their modern counterparts are produced via a combination of old and new methods. New weaving methods have been introduced to make the job easier. Even the materials used for the two kinds are different. Make no mistake about it, though—a lot of hard work is still necessary to produce a single contemporary tapestry to hang in your wall.