Industrial Style (20th-21th Century)

Industrial design is all about displaying building materials that are traditionally concealed. It’s about unfinished look, raw, ducts an exposed pipes. This aesthetic style became popular in the late 2000s and is still trending.

Industrial Style Interior
Industrial Style Interior

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How industrial style began

The style developed during the early 20th century, and could date backtot the end of the 2nd industrial revolution. The Industrial Revolution introduced new technologies and mechanized manufacturing. In the early 20th century closed-down factories became a prime source of real estate. The population of cities increased due to urbanization. This led to a shortage of residential buildings. Abandoned mills and warehouses were converted into livable quarters. Architects and homeowners started to change the industrial buildings, adding some architectural, modern and stylish details.

What is urban industrial style?

Urban Industrial style was developed in the mid-20th century during the 50s in United Stated. New York city became the center of Bohemian lifestyle artists. Artists appreciated the unique wide and open-plan spaces where they could mix their personal and professional life. For example Andy Warhol’s Factory was a former factory in Manhattan that the artist turned into an «art venue» during the years of Pop Art.

Porr Man's Library
Poor Man’s Library

Image source: by Kylie_Jaxxon

Nowadays industrial style takes inspiration from the lofty look of factories, warehouses and different industrial structures. Architectural details include the use of metals, bare bricks and wood. Industrial style furnishings are usually obtained from reclaimed yards. Industrial design can also be seen in the use of unexpected materials, such as shipping containers.

Key Elements of Industrial Style

Truth Coffee Interior by Haldane Martin
Truth Coffee Interior by Haldane Martin, (Photo Micky Hoyle)

Image source: by Haldane Martin

Colors – neutral palettes that consist of black, gray and white. Some layers could be with hits of darker tones. Warm colors like tans and browns make the space more inviting. Neutral tones don’t distract the eyes from the exposed elements. Walls usually remain unpainted or modeled on masonry look.

Silhouettes – shapes used for industrial design consist mostly of blocky shapes and squared lines. Industrial style embraces simplicity in every way possible – in form, function and silhouettes.

Materials metal is the main material that characterizes industrial style. Combination of distressed metal elements such as steel, iron and aluminum and wooden floors are also indicators of industrial design. Wood adds texture and warmth, while metal is sleek and modern. “Used” and vintage wood optics such as furniture made of pallets might also be used.


Vintage industrial dining chair
Vintage industrial dining chair

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Accessories – large abstract wall art, metal structures and different objects salvaged from a reclamation. In terms of lighting filament bulbs with long cables are often used in industrial interior design. Sometimes these long cables are “knotted”. The light mimics such as the red-gold light of the bulbs create a cozy atmosphere. Industrial can also feel homey with fake fur and pillows, with large-meshed carpets, with old stamps and newspaper clippings.

Industrial Style Chandelier
Industrial Style Chandelier

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