By its very name, Brutalism might seem an unlikely style to want to incorporate into a home but its aesthetic is so unique, so striking, that you can’t help but be intrigued by it. (Plus, you can’t argue with this roster: Le Corbusier, Carlo Scarpa, Marcel Breuer, Kelly Wearstler, Chahan Minassian et al.) Take a leaf out of the bold design set’s book and channel the look at home this season.
How To Use Brutalism At Home
Focus on honest design
Something Minimalism and Brutalism have in common – a penchant for pared back, honest design. Clean lines, exposed elements and unadorned finishes all conform with Brutalist’s objectives.
Use blocky forms
Starting as an architectural movement surely informed Brutalism’s enduring architectural inclination. Borrowing the majority of its aesthetic from the construction of buildings and their basic structures, Brutalism uses blocky silhouettes and has a never-ending love with geometric lines. Stepped designs recall Carlo Scarpa motifs whilst building block arrangements nod to the iconic Viennese assemblage of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity (a.k.a. Wotruba Church).
Channel “rough” and distressed textures
Like the Japanese technique of kintsugi (the art of repairing broken pottery with gold-flecked lacquer), Brutalism would have viewers rethink their idea of imperfection and challenges the traditional notion of beauty with its rough, aged textures. Consider pieces featuring molten or hammered techniques, hand-shaped metalwork, antiqued mirror and crackle effect. Remember that even soft items such as cushions and rugs can convey an interesting texture and are a great way to make the look perfectly liveable.
Image Credit: Schiffer Publishing
Show your metal
If concrete is Brutalism’s structural material of choice, metal is its decorative. Choose metal (or at least metal effect) over wood every time for furniture and mirrors. Accent with bronze and brass decor and soften with minimalist upholstery. Metal bases have been the common denominator of any furniture piece to have over the last few years which ties in perfectly with the Brutalist trend. Take style notes from past designers like Paul Evans – who’s trademark metal fish-scale pattern can be seen in inspired pieces by Brabbu – and modern ones like Michele Oka Doner, Mattia Bonetti, Charles Hadcock and Based Upon.
Add zing with spikes and “free-form” edges
C. Jeré popularised the spiky urchin motif in its whimsical wall decor and the style continues to be a favourite style confident spaces. Urchin lighting or sculptures ticks all the boxes for an eye-catching room centrepiece and has the backing of design royalty François Catroux, Jean-Louis Deniot and Kelly Wearstler. Uneven edges interpret the style’s characteristic nonchalant vibe and soften the harder lines of its furniture. Dress a monolithic Brutalist table with craggy bowls and anchor with a spiky chandelier.
Create a colour-free zone
Brutalism is one of the very few styles which isn’t interested in colour. Texture, form, proportion – yes – but this is one style in which colour takes a back seat. Maintain a colourless palette and steer toward the cooler side of neutrals with slate, charcoal and platinum taking the reins. The only exception is gold accents which are a great way of spinning the industrial look to have a luxe touch.
Learn about the style’s big names in our Brutalist Architecture & Design You’ll Love article.