The industrial furniture style and its characteristics
What makes the Industrial furniture style so popular and how it developed.

With Industrial style, we’re describing an interior characterized by coarse structures, smooth surfaces and a lot of metal. This is typically used for furniture that looks as if it came from a turn-of-the-century factory building. The furniture is simple and straightforward. The used metal of the furniture is often black or even slightly rusted. A popular material in Industrial is smooth leather in dark shades – mostly shades of brown.

Origin and development

The Industrial furniture style has its origin in the United States and Great Britain and thus came to Germany. It’s characterized by furniture with “used” effects, which consist predominantly of steel, sheet metal or metal in general. Furniture from old industrial companies from the 1920s-50s, from wood and metal are gladly taken and then “converted” e. g. a workbench as a desk.

Today’s Industrial has little to do with original furniture. Most items are purposely built in this style by the manufacturers and artificially aged accordingly.

Key characteristics of the Industrial style

With armchairs and couches, the looks in the Industrial style are either ultra-modern and black, gray, or of rough leather (mostly brown leather partly with visual seams) or as mentioned above original pieces with used effects. A good fit makes rather angular furniture. “Used” wood optics such as furniture made of pallets can be taken as well. Walls of the style usually remain unpainted or are modeled on masonry look.

In terms of lighting design, filament bulbs (only available with LED – read more here) are suspended with long cables – often these long cables are being “knotted”. The light mimics the gold-red light of the first light bulbs at the turn of the century and creates a cozy atmosphere.

The start-up Very Simple Kitchen from Italy produces kitchens in industrial furniture style.

Industrial becomes homey with large-meshed carpets, with fake fur and pillows, e. g. with old stamps, newspaper clippings, bridge motifs or printed quotes.

The more improvised the whole thing looks, the better. Industrial is particularly good in old buildings or in rooms with high ceilings and windows, since only then a real factory hall flair arises.
Christine HillerLighting expert at Houzz & HQ Designs

Curtains are not part of a true industrial style. Real “used” home accessories like old (color) tin cans as a pen holder, black and white pictures on the wall, an old scale and old weights, gears and an old alarm clock as a decoration complete the style. Upcycling is a common way of staging old objects, especially from factories.

Basic colors are rather black-gray tones, at the most with another color in a muted tone, e. g. mustard yellow, petrol, orange or even light blue with a tendency to a smoky nuance. Who chooses Cognac as the base color for his couch, it is recommended to use related tones, such as a dark red, orange or even beige.

If patterns, then geometric patterns of the turn of the century such as chessboard or even lines. In today’s Industrial, however, there can also be a hexagonal or diamond pattern. Floors are either painted only and sealed or vinyl, often dark or gray, without much pattern.

Companies that have adopted the industrial style are e. g. Light & Living with several light series, Tommy M, we met at Imm Cologne 2019, or Very Simple Kitchen.

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