Maybe you've heard the term Brutalism thrown around by design-minded style stars. Blame it on the widespread popularity of '70s-inspired fashion trends, historical films, and disco music. From architectural descriptions to individual pieces of furniture, materials, and color palettes, Brutalist style seems to have earned a permanent spot on the décor trend list. But what exactly is it and how do you describe it? That's where things get a little more complicated.
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Popular in the 1960s and 1970s, Brutalism originated post–World War II when the design of low-cost housing and government buildings was composed of mainly raw, unrefined materials. The architects and builders sought to project a sense of strength through their fortress-like designs, while also celebrating the imperfect appeal of handmade items. It's literally scrappy. The Original Tastemakers: Curtis Jeré, Paul Evans, and Tom Greene The Modern Fans: Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, and Blackman Cruz///Giacometti, CHAHAN MINASSIAN & AMOIA STUDIO
What is Brutalism?
Brutalism is a style of art characterized by a deliberate plainness, crudity, or violence of imagery. It emerged in the mid-20th century and gained popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s.
Read on for our quick primer on Brutalist furniture to learn what makes it stand out in a sea of other terms—like midcentury modern and art deco—so you can exchange cocktail party banter with the best of them. And if you're feeling inspired, shop the rough-around-the-edges pieces throughout this cheat sheet to Brutalist design.
- Furniture & Decor Composed of Building Materials (concrete, steel, glass, iron, burnished metals)
- Patina (raw, rough-hewn, hard edges, jagged shapes, with evidence of the artist's hand)
- "Honesty" somber
- Statement pieces (monolithic)
- Asymmetry/organic designs (geometric and abstract)
- Dark Moody Earth Tones
- Fabrics/textiles That Stand The Test of Time (leather, velvet)
- Exposed architectural elements
metallic color palettes
The Common Materials: concrete, steel, glass, bronze, and iron
<<Today we're seeing Brutalist furniture emerge through statement pieces that can blend into a variety of design styles. The look is most commonly manifested in lighting and wall sculptures, but you can find a variety of vintage and contemporary consoles, sideboards, and armoires that exhibit characteristics of Brutalism. Cast concrete furniture is another raw yet sophisticated way to bring this look into your own space.>>
Curtis Jere Sculpture