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Brutalist interior design: passing trend or forever chic?

Discover the rising trend of brutalist interior design, where it comes from, and how we think it will develop in the next years. Stay tuned for insights and recommendations.

brutalist interior design
Brutalist interior design: passing trend or forever chic?
April 9, 2024

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In the vast landscape of interior design, where trends rise and fall with the passing of seasons, Brutalism stands as a true testament to the enduring power of raw authenticity and industrial charm. Originating in the post-World War II era, Brutalist interior design has evolved from a radical architectural movement to a cherished design style, captivating designers and homeowners alike with its bold aesthetics and minimalist ethos. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the nuances of Brutalist interior design, examining its origins, defining features, and its continued relevance in contemporary spaces.

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Unveiling the origins of Brutalist interior design

To truly appreciate Brutalist interior design, one must first understand its architectural roots. Emerging in the 1950s, the Brutalist movement was spearheaded by visionary architects like Le Corbusier, who sought to break away from the ornate styles of the past and embrace a new aesthetic characterized by raw concrete, clean lines, and geometric shapes.

Inspired by the ethos of modernism, Bauhaus and the aftermath of World War II, Brutalism represented a radical departure from conventional design principles, celebrating the beauty of industrial materials and the expressive forms they could create.

brutalist interior design

What is Brutalist interior design?

At its core, Brutalist interior design embodies a sense of raw authenticity and unapologetic simplicity. Concrete, the quintessential material of the Brutalist palette, takes center stage, left exposed to showcase its texture and imperfections. This emphasis on raw materials extends beyond concrete to encompass steel, brass, and other industrial elements.

In terms of aesthetics, Brutalist interiors are characterized by their minimalist approach and focus on essential forms. Decorative embellishments are kept to a minimum, with an emphasis on functional furniture and architectural details. Clean lines and geometric shapes dominate the space, creating a sense of order and harmony amidst the industrial backdrop.

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An important aside on Eco Brutalism: The revival of the 2020s

As the world grapples with pressing environmental concerns, the intersection of Brutalist interior design with eco-conscious principles has given rise to a burgeoning movement known as Eco-Brutalism. This innovative approach seeks to marry the industrial aesthetics of Brutalism with sustainable practices and a deep reverence for nature. At the heart of Eco-Brutalism lies the concept of biophilic design—an ethos that aims to reconnect humans with the natural world through the integration of organic elements and green spaces into the built environment.

Embracing biophilic principles in brutalist interiors

Biophilic design holds that incorporating elements of nature into our living spaces can have profound benefits for our well-being, fostering a sense of calm, connection, and vitality. In the context of Brutalist interiors, this means weaving greenery, natural materials, and organic motifs into the industrial canvas, creating a harmonious blend of the urban and the natural.

Integrating greenery and natural elements

In Eco-Brutalist interiors, concrete walls and steel fixtures serve as the backdrop for lush greenery and natural materials. Vertical gardens, cascading vines, and potted plants breathe life into the space, softening the starkness of industrial surfaces and infusing the environment with vitality. Wooden accents and furnishings add warmth and texture, creating a visual and tactile contrast to the coolness of concrete.

Maximizing natural light and ventilation

A hallmark of Brutalist architecture is its emphasis on large windows and open spaces, which not only blur the boundaries between inside and outside but also allow for ample natural light and ventilation. In Eco-Brutalist interiors, these features are optimized to harness the benefits of daylighting and passive cooling, reducing the reliance on artificial lighting and mechanical systems.

Fostering connection to the outdoors

Biophilic design encourages a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces, fostering a sense of connection to the natural world. In Eco-Brutalist homes, this connection is strengthened through the incorporation of outdoor living areas, rooftop gardens, and courtyards, which serve as extensions of the interior space and invite residents to engage with nature on a daily basis.

Promoting sustainable practices

Beyond the aesthetic considerations, Eco-Brutalism is rooted in sustainable practices that minimize environmental impact and promote resource conservation. From energy-efficient lighting and water-saving fixtures to recycled materials and green building technologies, every aspect of the design is thoughtfully curated to align with principles of sustainability and ecological stewardship.

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Fad or forever? The timeless appeal of Brutalist interior design

As we look to the future of interior design, it's clear that Brutalism's influence remains as strong as ever. From iconic landmarks like the Barbican in London to contemporary homes in California, Brutalist architecture continues to inspire designers and homeowners with its bold aesthetic and industrial feel.

But beyond its visual appeal, Brutalist interior design offers a philosophy—a way of living that prioritizes authenticity, functionality, and simplicity. In a world filled with fleeting trends and ephemeral styles, Brutalism stands as a beacon of enduring chic, reminding us that true beauty lies in the raw, the imperfect, and the authentic.

In conclusion, Brutalist interior design is not just a passing trend—it's a timeless aesthetic that speaks to the essence of modern living. So, whether you're drawn to its industrial charm or minimalist allure, embrace the boldness of Brutalism and create a space that is both chic and enduring.

brutalist interior design

Crafting your own brutalist space

Now that we (might have) convinced you that Brutalism is beautiful, let's get into actually creating these spaces. Creating a Brutalist sanctuary entails more than just selecting furniture and colours—it involves curating every aspect of the space to evoke the raw authenticity and industrial charm that define this aesthetic. Let's delve deeper into the intricacies of crafting your own Brutalist haven.

colin king adrian gaut
Styling by Colin King and photography by Adrian Gaut via Vogue

Selecting furniture and fixtures

When outfitting your space in the Brutalist style, prioritize furniture and fixtures that embody the ethos of simplicity, functionality, and bold design. Look for pieces characterized by clean lines, angular shapes, and a minimalist aesthetic. Opt for furnishings crafted from industrial materials such as concrete, steel, or brass, which not only complement the Brutalist aesthetic but also add to the overall industrial feel of the space. Consider iconic designs inspired by the likes of Le Corbusier and other pioneers of Brutalism, whose innovative creations continue to influence contemporary interiors. Find options on our free, curated directory.

brutalist interior design

Foundation of concrete flooring

Concrete flooring serves as the foundation upon which the Brutalist aesthetic is built, providing a solid base for the space while adding to its industrial allure. Embrace the natural texture and imperfections of concrete, allowing its raw beauty to shine through. Consider techniques such as polished concrete or acid staining to enhance the visual appeal of the flooring, creating a seamless backdrop for the rest of the design elements. Check out world class stone and cement-style products on our free, curated directory.

brutalist interior design

Adding warmth with wooden accents

While Brutalist interiors are often characterized by their use of industrial materials, incorporating wooden accents can add warmth and texture to the space, balancing out the starkness of concrete. Introduce wooden details such as furniture legs, shelving units, or decorative elements to infuse the space with a sense of organic warmth and visual contrast. Consider reclaimed or salvaged wood for added authenticity and sustainability, further enhancing the eco-conscious aspect of your design, such as the one featured below, available on our free, curated directory.

brutalist interior design

Embracing the monochrome palette

The monochrome allure of Brutalism lies in its sophisticated yet understated colour palette, dominated by shades of grey and muted tones. Embrace this minimalist aesthetic by selecting paint colours, upholstery fabrics, and decor items that complement the industrial feel of the space. Consider matte finishes and textured surfaces to add depth and visual interest, creating a dynamic interplay of light and shadow throughout the room. Explore our vast range of sustainable paint colours on our free, curated directory.

brutalist interior design

Infusing nature with green plants

To soften the industrial ambiance of Brutalist interiors and infuse the space with a touch of nature, incorporate green plants strategically throughout the space. Select low-maintenance plants such as succulents, ferns, or snake plants that thrive in indoor environments and require minimal upkeep. Place them in decorative planters or hanging pots to create vertical interest and add visual contrast against the rugged backdrop of concrete and steel.

Harnessing natural light with large windows

Large windows play a pivotal role in Brutalist interiors, allowing natural light to flood the space and blurring the boundaries between inside and outside. Maximize the impact of natural light by strategically positioning furniture and decor to optimize views and create inviting seating areas bathed in sunlight. Consider sheer curtains or blinds that can be easily adjusted to control light levels while preserving privacy, maintaining the seamless connection between indoors and outdoors.


Thank you for reading our guide on Brutalism and brutalist interior design. We hope you feel better equipped to design these spaces or transform your own. Remember to check out our free, curated directory before you leave.