I recently read an article with a reference to “Brutalism” and since this was a new term for me I set out to find out exactly what it meant. Brutalism is a post-World War II style of architecture made popular by artists like Alberto Giacometti & architects like Louis I. Kahn during the ’60s and ’70s. It is defined by repeated geometric or abstract shapes grouped together asymmetrically and uses rugged, burnished materials with lots of texture & jagged edges. The overall look of Brutalism has a post-apocalyptic/industrial fortress type of vibe that utilizes lots of handcrafted metalwork and materials like concrete, steel, glass, bronze & iron in dark earth tone palettes.
The very name itself is misleading: however brutalism’s etymology actually lies in the French béton-brut – literally “raw concrete” – the movement’s signature material. But Brutalism was concerned with far more than materials, emerging in the early 1950s through dissatisfaction with existing forms of Modernism, from which it aimed to make a conscious departure.
Why is it back in vogue? The world has recently become ’60s & ’70s-obsessed, and it probably had a lot to do with the fabulous decor on Mad Men & American Hustle. The set of American Hustle was the epitome of brutalist design, with it’s gold & brown metallic color palette, angular shapes and asymmetrical accessories.
How can you use it in your own home? Today it’s all about using brutalism pieces as accents as opposed to all over an entire room. Because of the advancement in technology, new materials & visual effects are available in stunning wall coverings that can quickly transform a space. A statement wall of distressed metal or cement bring the perfect touch of the trend to your home. Instead of building the room around neutral golden tones, modernize it with pops of bright color & introduce different textures like leather and velvet, pairing it with brutalist sculptures, wall-hangings and light fixtures to complete the look.