What was once found only in business, warehouses and mechanics’ shops has found its way into our homes and become known as the “industrial style.”
Industrial style in interiors is similar to what it sounds like – a look that celebrates the industrial aspect of our lives. Nothing is decorative in industrial style. Instead, raw finishes and exposed mechanics are not something to conceal but are instead something to celebrate.
The functions of elements are exposed for what they are and accepted as things of beauty simply because of the purposes that they fulfill. This style goes further than the modern idea of “function before form” because celebrants of the industrial style also recognize beauty in the form. Industrial interiors reflect the magnificently composed interplay between form and function.
Industrial style is often misunderstood to be vintage, but it doesn’t have to be. Vintage elements, especially mechanical or utilitarian objects, are widely used in industrial style but new materials in their raw states also epitomize this style.Typical characteristics of an Industrial Style space:
- Lack of finishes.
Ductwork, wiring, brick or concrete is left exposed and in its natural state. Woods and metals are left raw or allowed to age. Joinery of elements along with angles and lines of the room or furnishings are not embellished and left uncovered.
- Wear and tear.
Wear is an accepted and even celebrated part of industrial style. Furnishings, decor and finishes are allowed to reveal their usage and decay.
Things are valued and not discarded just because they are old or show wear. Just as items were reused around warehouses and shops to fulfill a purpose, industrial style mimics this idea. (For example, an old hubcap becomes a flower planter or storage bin.) Also, when men were working on a job, they often had to fabricate items out of what they had available. Industrial style celebrates this economical and practical way of living.
- Slightly masculine feel.
Many men are drawn to industrial style interiors because it reflects their no-nonsense, lack-of-frills approach to life. Things are what they look like in industrial interiors – there is no pretense. Sharp lines and raw materials can portray a male-friendly interior though many women (like me!) love the industrial look also.
- Color comes naturally through materials.
In an industrial space, color is simply an offspring of the materials used. For example, red brick, gray steel and warm variegated wood flooring make up the color scheme because they are a natural part of the elements, which is a similar approach to the modern style. Some home dwellers who prefer more color than industrial's natural color palette choose to mix in contemporary elements because this style often combines well with industrial style. If you would like more color than a typical industrial style space provides, also consider colorful vintage items that show wear, like a rusty red metal cart or vintage signage. These period pieces also work well in an industrial style space, though tend to make the space more eclectic.
- Sharp angles.
Again, there is nothing curvy or frivolous about industrial design. Elements are not trying to be beautiful, they just are... kind of because of what they are not. The simplest and most utilitarian of forms is the cube, and this is celebrated in industrial design. Unless curves are used to improve productivity and function, they are avoided in industrial design.