Embrace the Unexpected With Brutalist Interior Design
Brutalist design is a deeply polarizing style. Admirers celebrate the gleeful geometric buildings and rule-breaking art, while detractors feel oppressed by the blocky shapes and raw materials. But there’s no denying that this bold aesthetic makes a lasting emotional impact.
What Is Brutalism?
Brutalism is an architectural style that’s defined by massive, minimalist concrete buildings with striking geometric silhouettes. The style rose from the ashes of World War II when builders started using affordable concrete to replace housing destroyed in the Blitz.
Though its buildings are indeed brutal, the name “brutalism” is actually a nod to the style’s signature material: “beton brut,” French for “raw concrete.” Concrete’s ragged texture and structural versatility inspired brutalist architects, who began experimenting with daring arrangements of shapes and gravity-defying angles. Metal became a key component of the style, but not in a sleek or polished way. Instead, brutalists embraced the stripped-down look of exposed, untreated iron and steel.
The design possibilities of these humble materials also inspired artists, who took brutalism to an even wilder place. Brutalist sculptures might be the most thrilling expressions of the style, featuring towering concrete spikes and undulating organic shapes that seem to defy the heavy nature of concrete.
What Is Brutalist Interior Design?
Looking at a fortress-like brutalist building, it’s natural to wonder how this raw, aggressive style translates to interior design. Pretty seamlessly, as it happens; the raw materials, minimalist vibe, and striking silhouettes make for fascinating indoor spaces.
Brutalist interiors feature expanses of concrete and glass, often punctuated with structural metal accents. High ceilings and large windows create open spaces awash in light; sparse styling and cool, neutral colors celebrate the natural textures and unique angles.
A brutalist house eliminates architectural embellishments, leaning instead toward smooth surfaces and unframed windows. For people who love the style, modern brutalism is a chance to create a true haven from the chaos of the outside world. Free of clutter and distractions, these calm spaces allow your mind to rest when you’re done overseeing a corporate takeover or navigating a cutthroat school drop-off line.
Brutalist decor might be restrained, but it’s riveting in its execution. The sparse interiors might appeal to you if you prefer to restrict your decor to a few carefully selected pieces that have a deep personal significance. With fewer items competing for your attention, your treasured possessions and understated works of art have a chance to shine. Your antique metal mirror might fade into the background in a room with overflowing bookshelves and clever throw pillows. But when it’s the only thing on the wall, the wavy glass and the patina on the frame seem more striking.
Integrating Brutalist Design Into Your Home
Despite its austerity, brutalist home decor is remarkably versatile; you can work brutalist pieces into a wide range of design styles. The clean lines and breathtaking geometric forms blend easily into sleek, contemporary spaces, and the rough, no-nonsense metal and concrete are a natural fit with the exposed structural elements in industrial interiors. If your home is plush and cozy, brutalist accents can add a refreshing sense of edginess that feels more aligned with your sharp wit and drive to succeed.
Raw concrete is the easiest way to bring the essence of brutalist style to your home. If your house doesn’t have the expansive concrete walls and floors that characterize brutalism interior design, you can create a similar effect with large concrete pieces. Oversized concrete coffee tables and low window benches have weight and substance that make your living room feel more grounded and calming when you’re hosting a new colleague for a welcome dinner. In the kitchen, install high-visibility concrete kitchen sinks or countertops to maximize the visual impact and create a cool, collected vibe while you work on your knife skills.
No matter which pieces you choose, minimal styling is critical; unadorned surfaces showcase concrete’s natural imperfections and color variations. Set your laptop and planner on the side table, and leave the coffee table bare to capture the pared-down brutalist vibe. If you feel overstimulated by the trend toward maximalism in interior decor, this simplicity is a balm for your senses.
Brutalism design might be dominated by concrete, but metal is also an important player. Though the style probably isn’t what you’d consider cozy, its gritty, unfinished iron or steel metal accents can offset the gloss of polished marble and chrome in your contemporary home for a more down-to-earth vibe. Dig into a stack of newspapers from the comfort of an iron-frame accent chair that tempers the shine of your glass coffee table, or set your TV on an uncoated steel console table.
If you’re drawn to the blocky design of brutalist architecture or the undulating lines of organic brutalism, capture the same scene-stealing look with a geometric metal sculpture or a jagged-edge metal chandelier. Position the piece in a prominent place; a striking sculpture in the center of your entryway creates a sense of awe and museum-style serenity as guests walk through the front door.
Bold Geometric Shapes
Embrace brutalism’s cheeky, experimental side with pieces that mimic the style’s no-holds-barred geometric designs. Swap out a staid ceiling light for a light fixture with metal spikes or interlocking shapes to spark thought-provoking conversations when you’re entertaining new clients. In the living room, capture the shock factor of brutalist style by pairing soft sofas and chairs with concrete square furniture. The stark angles and eye-catching shapes of a multifaceted table create a delightfully irreverent contrast with the gentle curves of a wingback chair, infusing your unconventional personality into the space.
If you feel most relaxed in a sparse setting, the geometric frames of brutalist-style headboards or accent chairs are a way to make a statement without needing additional decor. Luxe velvet or microfiber upholstery softens the effect, creating impressive yet inviting pieces.
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