Everything You Wanted to Know About Brutalism But Were Afraid to Ask

If you're like us, you've been hearing the term "Brutalism" being thrown around by design-minded style stars. Blame it on the widespread popularity of American Hustle and the world's newly rediscovered interest in all things 70's (Daft Punk and Pharrell, we're thinking of your disco-infused hits). From architectural descriptions to individual pieces of furniture, to materials and colour palettes, Brutalism seems to be everywhere. But what exactly is it and how do you describe it? Read on for our quick primer on the style  and click through our slideshow to get inspired by these rough-around-the-edges spaces so you can exchange cocktail party banter with the best of them. _1 Popular in the 1960s and '70s, the style originated post-World War II when the design of low-cost housing and government buildings was comprised 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 hand-made items.

b2 b9 b14
Electra End Table, $720, AllModern 1970s Brutal Metal Wall Sculpture, Price Upon Request, 1st Dibs Tepati Metal Sculpture, $30, CB2


Raw Industrial Post-apocalyptic Somber Rough Mechanical

b22 b24 b23
Sculptural Brutal Coffee Table Base, $3500, 1st Dibs An Architect's Favourite Side Table, $90, Wisteria Pair of Large Feldman Brutal Wall Lights, $2600, 1st Dibs


Hard edges Jagged shapes Rough surfaces Patinated finishes Asymmetrical organic designs Metallic colour palettes

b1 b11 b13
Clarksdale Screen, $7500, Arteriors Pair of Brutal Lamps by Maurizio Tempestini, $7900, 1st Dibs Brutal Style Dining Table, $7865, 1st Dibs

_newConcrete Steel Glass Bronze Iron

b3 b7 b6
Fuze Dining Table, $999, CB2 Classic Trinket, $350, Kelly Wearstler Modernist Chandelier, Price Upon Request, Second Shout Out

_3 Today we're seeing Brutalism emerge through statement pieces which can blend into a variety of design styles. The look is most commonly manifested in lighting and wall sculpture, but you can find a variety of vintage and contemporary consoles, sideboards, and armoires which exhibit characteristics of Brutalism. Cast concrete furniture is another raw, yet sophisticated way to bring this look into your own space.

b8 b10 b15
Covet Candle Holders, $1195, Kelly Wearstler Iron Brutal Sconce #2, Price Upon Request, 1st Dibs Perspective Mirror, $149, CB2


"Were you loving the Brutalist design elements in the American Hustle sets as much as I was?"

"That ragged, rusty metal sculpture is actually totally Brutalist-chic!"

"Raw concrete furniture is so hot right now, it references Brutalism in such a modern, sophisticated way, don't you think?"


_cjere _paull _tom
Curtis Jeré Paul Evans Tom Greene


_kelly _jonathan _blackman
Kelly Wearstler Jonathan Adler Blackman Cruz

What do you think of the Brutalist look? Would you incorporate some of these pieces into your own home? Let us know in the comments. For some Brutalist-architecture eye candy check out one of our favourite Tumblrs: F*ck Yeah Brutalism.

Photographs: Henri Cleinge, Christian Boros, Habachy Designs, Sony Pictures, Hotel Wiesler, John Lautner, Katty Schiebeck, Kelly Weastler, Kelly Weastler, Kelly Weastler, Lázaro Rosa-Violán,  Kelly Weastler, Soma Architects, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Sony Pictures, via ArkPad, via Houzz, Line Hotel, via Rue. 

Add a Comment

More Stories