Modern vs. Contemporary
Contemporary style is not born out of a certain era. It changes as time evolves, and can incorporate modern elements. For example, in a few more decades, a new style will be called contemporary because it is what is in style. Contemporary furnishings have more distinctive forms and often can include curved furnishings.
Beginning in the 1990s, contemporary decor followed the minimalist trend and it can include stark contrasting colors with black and white, while modern is based on neutrals rather than being stark and cold. Contemporary pieces may be simply decorative, while modern pieces must have a function.
The battle to define modern style will probably continue, as it is widely debated.
But at its root, the modern style reflects a certain era. That said, many people incorporate pieces of modern style into their homes and offices because of its simple, functional nature. As many people strive for simplicity in life—and there's an emphasis on decluttering—perhaps they will be drawn to the modern style because it does seem to simplify everything. That goes along with the design trend of open-concept spaces.