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LaGorce Residence by Kobi Karp

The Modern Homes that Will Give You Ultimate Design Envy

Prepared to be wowed with Nest Casa’s top picks for modern home design yesterday and today.
Roxanne Robinson Jan 28, 2021
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When it comes to purveyors of luxury homes, usually one finds two camps: those who appreciate the classics, i.e., older home styles, or those seeking modernity. Although many who opt for the former tend to renovate the interior to reflect a more current interior, they like keeping an homage to these homes’ traditions intact. The other camp revels in the sheer awe of modern home architectural feats. As modern as these homes are, however, some of the most iconic modern homes are anything but new.

Modern Homes: The Beginning

First, the question to answer is what constitutes modern home architecture? It must be remembered that the Industrial Revolution made all of this possible. Generally, a home is considered modern by a predominant use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete. Another critical point is the philosophy that allows ‘form [to] follow function.’ Additionally, minimalism and a move away from overly-ornamented architectural constructions is a defining point. It’s a mood that is first attributed to the 20th century, becoming more dominant after WWII.

Modern Home Crystal_Palace_wikipidea
The Crystal Palace, Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Although this may be true, there are plenty of 19th-century examples considered part of the movement’s birth. For instance, in 1851, the Crystal Palace erected in Hyde Park, London, for the Great Exhibition is regarded as one of the first modernist buildings made from cast glass plates held together by cast iron. Indeed walking through the sunlit glass structure in the mid-1880s must have felt quite modern. Yet, by today’s standards, that building seems pretty dated. 

Likewise, Paris’ Tour Eiffel, constructed by Gustave Eiffel & Company in 1889, was also a modern marvel of the time. Similarly, the first documented use of reinforced concrete in a home was made in Saint-Denis just outside of Paris in 1853. At the same time in the States, Frank Lloyd Wright would earn his first home commission as an independent architect in the River House located in River Forest, Illinois.

Modern Home _Fallingwater over Bear Run waterfall
Fallingwater. Frank Lloyd Wright architect, Photo Courtesy of Jim Packett / Shutterstock

The Evolution of Modern Home Design

Notwithstanding these early modern designs, the movement that most closely resembles today’s modern homes primarily occurred post-war. However, notably the 1920s and 1930 Art Deco movement produced gems such as New York’s Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building in 1930 and 1931, respectively. In Europe, designer Le Corbusier created Villa Savoye outside of Paris in 1927, which still holds up as modern home almost 100 years later. And Frank Lloyd Wright’s infamous Fallingwater Home was constructed in 1935 and is largely still considered an architectural feat. Equally important, a young designer named Ludwig Mies van der Rohe also came onto the scene creating the highly-regarded Tugendhat Villa and Lilly Reich in Brno, Czech Republic.

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Villa Savoye, Photo Courtesy of

Post-War and Beyond

As countries rebuilt their cities after the Second World War, modern home building really took off. While widely popular in post-war Germany with a style known as Brutalism, the US had its fair share of similar aesthetic constructions. Acrop of modern homes soon sprang up, which featured open living plans and lots of glass exteriors flowing into large patio areas. Thus, this period marked the explosion of Mid-Century Modern home designs. Architect A. Quincy Jones created a stellar example of this Los Angeles home for Hollywood star of It’s A Wonderful Life’s, Frank Capra.

Frank Capra's Fabulous 1950s Modern Home_Midcentury Modern Home
Frank Capra's Fabulous 1950s Midcentury Modern Home Designed by Architect A., Photo Courtesy of

In contrast, Lloyd-Wright protegé, John Lautner, developed a space-age home in Los Angeles inspired by geodesic dome engineering said to have been environmentally friendly. Llyod-Wright’s own Prairie home movement gave way to Unisonian houses, which provided a more modest approach to modern home living but not exactly inexpensive. Notably, Phillip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, was designed as his residence in 1947 and is a significant modernist home construction of the era.

Modern Homes Today

Today’s modern home vision can be easily summed up by Miami-based architect Kobi Karp whose work and firm, Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design, has shaped the coastal views of the tropical paradise since the 1990s. Specifically, he sees modern design as a relationship between interior and exterior spaces, a philosophy evident in his residential work, for example. “It’s a seamless transition that functions as a whole, rather than separate, individual spaces that go from room to room,” explains Karp, adding, “I like to think of the whole house as one living organism.” Additionally, he also lauds modern design living as able to incorporate the latest technological advancements and methods. Besides, explains Karp, “These materials allow a much more open barefoot elegant, contemporary lifestyle incorporated into the design’s DNA, and that’s always fun.” 

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Philip Johnsons's Glass House in Connecticut, Photo Courtesy of Ramin Talaie /Getty Image

Given his location, clearly, he has mastered the elegant, barefoot lifestyle. “Tropical atmospheres enrich my inspiration and challenge me to design with creativity and discover climate-oriented architectural solutions,” he says, adding that the spaces are built to reflect Miami’s beautiful landscape. Additionally, he promotes cross-ventilation to catch those ocean breezes, and of course, places terraces as a continuation of the dining space optimally to catch the ocean vista. Similarly, he extends master bedrooms to the outdoor with exterior sleeping and alfresco bathroom to enrich the tropical lifestyle. Considering Frank Llyod Wright has deeply inspired Karp’s work, the unison between outdoor spaces makes perfect sense.

Nest Casa Top Modern Homes Picks

Today’s modern homes demonstrated just how far and evolved the concept has become. These building wonders would definitely wow even the modernist architects from days of yore, thanks in part to technology that allows for even more unimaginable modern homes and innovative design feats. The following editor picks are five of Nest Casa’s favorite modern home designs today.

1. Kobi Karp

Principal Kobi Karp describes this Miami Beach residence he and his firm designed. “The modern element you will find in this residence is the emphasis on the materials. The clean, horizontal, wood-paneling exterior wall juxtaposes the white exterior material and brings out this home’s dramatic, modern character. Using traditional materials in new ways is one way I try to reflect the modern aesthetic in my own way,” said Kobi Karp, Principal at Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design. 

2. Michael Haverland

Michael Haverland’s East Hampton modern masterpiece consists of specially 3-D designed cement bricks for its mainly opaque front. This dense front gives way to an entirely transparent backside in contrast that looks out over the Atlantic ocean thanks to 14-foot glass windows.


3. Zaha Hadid

The late Dame Zaha Hadid was not known for creating private residences. However, she made an exception for this uniquely modern home for a Russian developer located just outside of Moscow. Affectionately dubbed the “spaceship” the property is nonetheless  officially called Capitol Hill. To explain its futuristic shape, the owner wished to be able to have a bird’s eye view to look at the pine and birch treetops of Barvikha that grow 20 meters high. 


4. Sawyer Berson

This Southhampton, NY home designed by New York City firm Sawyer Berson is more than its impressive massive stature. Designed in harmony with its dune and beachfront location, the glass front multi-plane structure serves as equal parts holiday and weekend getaway and art gallery. Another key point of this home’s design is the use of African designed furniture and art.

5. Sylvan Rock Home

Tucked away in the Catskills Mountains is the first private residential estate designed by Aston Martin. Dubbed Sylvan Rock Home in homage to local topography, the home design responds to the lines of the natural environment. Its unique multi-dimension rooftops off immense glass window walls to enjoy the nature just outside. The residence and guest pods also keep the car enthusiast in mind with its three-car garage. 


Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter,, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and among others.
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