Brutalist interior design has had a way of resurfacing every few decades. From it's budding beginnings in the 1930's Mayan Revival to the resurgence in late 1980's interior design, this very specific design style continues to captivate our minds and warm our hearts. In 2020, Brutalist interior design is having the biggest comeback of all.




Raw materials, textured surfaces, simple silhouettes and geometric shapes are the hallmarks of Brutalist interior design. The trend comes from the post-Mid-Century era which celebrated grandeur, glam, geometric forms and repetitive patterns. 




While many Brutalist themes are shared with the Art Deco and Mid Century design eras, Brutalism verges far away through the use of rough surface materials like concrete, steel and various matte metals with an aged or pattina appearance.




This style peaked in the 1960's after WWII when low-cost unrefined materials were used in architecture and housing design. A type of "fortress" aesthetic was adopted that was thought to convey strength. The decor within was masculine in it's approach--minimalist lines and bold use of metal played a key role.




In addition to organic textural surfaces, Brutalism also places an emphasis on structural spatial depth created in furniture, wall coverings, decorative objects and architectural design as a whole. The use of negative space and asymmetrical silhouettes makes it unique. Patterns could be equally repetitive, or sporadic.




Warm metals have played a major role in this design trend, and with the popularity of gleaming brass in recent years, it has taken the main stage. A cement table; a brass metallic cube to decorate. The two opposing materials create a captivating balance.




Today's contemporary application of Brutalist interior design plays out mainly in the use of large statement pieces and small decorative objects. Start with a large textured base that emphasizes natural materials and surface texture--like a heavy piece of geometric wood furniture, or a concrete counter top. Choose metallic lighting to create a centerpiece, then mix in small brutalist pieces in metallic tones to pull it all together. 




One way this design style has been modernized in 2020 is the introduction of polished and chrome metallics rather than solely the more hallmark matte industrial metals. Polished stainless steel and mirrored silver chrome lighting options have been on the rise the past few seasons, and we're now seeing a convergence with the Brutalism theme. Using a uniformed metallic finish can help blend in the more modern and contemporary elements.




Lighting choice plays a major role in complimenting this design style to pull off the look properly. Low, moody lighting is where Brutalism comes to life--the shadows seep deep into the textured surfaces, creating a level of drama that accentuates the negative space and emphasizes the materials.



The key to applying Brutalist style in your design projects is through thoughtful selection, careful curation and confidence in your choices. Accent lighting allows focus to be drawn to the more standout pieces -- whether it be a new production or an original Paul Evans. 


 Written by Chelsey Loya

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