Characterised by exposed brick partnered with unrefined wood and metal, the industrial style has gained and remained in popularity since the 1960s. Originating in the loft apartments of New York, this style has expanded worldwide and become a staple for interior designers.
Origins of Industrial
Industrial is thought to have started in New York's Lower Manhattan in the 1960s when, as the cost of living increased, lateral thinkers moved away from residential areas and took over warehouse spaces and industrial units, converting them into living spaces. Many of them artists looking for full-length windows to provide natural light in their studios, these creative people created industrial furniture by repurposing objects and features of their new homes.
Identifying Industrial Furniture
Industrial homes tend to be open plan, with few (if any) interior walls to separate them. For that reason, industrial furniture is often used to mark the change in the use of space. For example, an open shelving unit may create a psychological barrier between the living and dining space, while an island counter is the limit of the kitchen area.
Industrial is characterised by a stripped-back style, particularly open pipes and unfinished wood floors. Although modern industrial furniture can be more refined, it has its origins in that same stripped-back style. Expect a blend of metal and unpainted wood and items that resemble repurposed objects such as barrels and ladders.
Soft furnishings tend to be in neutral colours to match the natural shades of wood and metal, however, splashes of colour certainly have their place. The key is to balance this with the industrial aesthetic rather than detracting from it. For example, posters on the wall or repurposed fire safety cabinets will all fit the aesthetic.
Bringing Industrial Into Your Home
The industrial style has moved beyond loft-style apartments, with many people wanting to recreate this aesthetic within suburban homes. So how do you go about that? The key is to remember the identifying features and stay true to the origins of industrial. If you don't have a brick wall to expose, then you can buy wallpaper that creates the effect and combine that with industrial furniture that conveys that chunky wood and metal vibe.
Mismatched is acceptable within industrial and charity shop or garage sale items that are slightly distressed work well. For contrast, add in houseplants - succulents are a particular favourite - and choose your planters to match, for example using recycled tin cans or Mason jars.