What Makes a Style Industrial? Characteristics Explained

The Industrial style has become increasingly popular in the world of home decor. It’s a style that strips everything back to the bare essentials and highlights the beauty of raw, inorganic materials. What makes a style industrial, you may ask? Let’s take a look at some key characteristics:
  • Raw materials: Industrial style embraces raw materials, such as wood, metal, brick, and concrete. These materials are often left unfinished, adding to the rugged, natural look.
  • Neutral color palette: The color scheme is usually composed of neutral shades, such as gray, beige, and white. This allows the focus to be on the materials and textures rather than the colors.
  • Vintage and recycled items: Industrial style often incorporates vintage or recycled items, such as old factory equipment, pulleys, and gears. These items are given new life and repurposed as decor.
  • Minimalism: Industrial decor is characterized by its simplicity and minimalism. Eliminating unnecessary furnishings allows the raw materials and vintage pieces to stand out.
  • Exposed fixtures: Industrial style embraces exposed fixtures, such as piping, electrical conduit, and HVAC ducts. These fixtures add to the unfinished look of the decor.
  • In essence, industrial style is a celebration of raw materials, vintage craftsmanship, and minimalism. It takes items that are often overlooked and gives them new life in a sleek, minimalistic fashion.

    Defining Industrial Style

    Industrial style is a unique design style that takes inspiration from old or commercial buildings, factories or warehouses built in the early 20th century. It is characterized by its sleek and minimal design, using raw, unfinished materials such as concrete, metal and wood. One of the most important aspects of industrial style is that it embraces the imperfections and raw textures of the materials used, which creates a sense of authenticity and uniqueness.
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    Key point: Industrial style values authenticity and raw textures, making use of unfinished materials to create a minimal yet distinct aesthetic.

    The Importance of Re-purposing and Recycling

    Re-purposing and recycling objects and materials is a central tenet of industrial style. This design approach focuses on finding new uses for items that were originally made for another purpose, often giving them a new lease of life. Repurposing in industrial design allows one to create eco-friendly designs while maintaining the integrity of the original materials. Some examples of recycled items that could be used in industrial design include reclaimed wood, vintage light fixtures, old industrial appliances and exposed ductwork. These materials can be used with minimal alteration to create a unique, authentic and highly functional space. Key point: Re-purposing and recycling is an integral feature of industrial design that gives new life to old objects and materials.

    Incorporating Vintage Elements

    Vintage elements play a huge role in industrial style, as they signify the history and character of industrial spaces. Incorporating vintage or old elements can be achieved in many ways, including the use of vintage metal lockers as storage units, reclaimed bricks for walls or vintage signage to create a focal point. When incorporating vintage elements, it is important to blend them seamlessly into the overall design to create a cohesive, functional space. To prevent the space from feeling cluttered, leave room for the vintage items to breathe and provide ample negative space around them. Key point: Industrial style embraces vintage elements to create unique and characterful spaces, creating a seamless integration of old and new elements.
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    Minimalism in Industrial Design

    Minimalism is a crucial component of industrial design. This design approach values simplicity and functionality over ornate, decorative elements. To achieve this aesthetic, one should use clean lines, neutral colors and minimal ornamentation. One way to incorporate minimalism in industrial design is by making use of an open floor plan, removing walls and partitions to create a free-flowing, open space. The use of natural light, simple furnishings, and open shelving can also help create a clean-lined, simplistic design. Key point: Minimalism plays a key role in industrial design, creating an open, uncluttered aesthetic that accentuates functionality over style.

    Creating an Lived-In Aesthetic

    One of the defining characteristics of industrial style is the lived-in look. It values work-worn materials and the patina that age and use create. It embraces the personality and imperfections of objects and spaces, making even highly structured designs appear organic. Achieving an lived-in aesthetic requires layering textures and materials and leaving small details visible, such as exposed brick, pipes and ductwork. The spaces of industrial style are designed to encourage relaxation while upholding the minimalistic principles of the design approach. Key point: Industrial style creates spaces that are both pristine and stylized, and at the same time livable, comfortable, and inviting.

    Industrial Materials and Textures

    Industrial style places great emphasis on the materials used in designing spaces. Using raw, unfinished materials such as concrete, metal, and wood is a fundamental aspect of this design approach. By blending industrial materials such as brass, steel, and wrought iron in furniture and décor, an industrial space creates a warm and layered aesthetic.
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    Blending different materials is achieved by layering different textures. Concrete walls can be paired with rustic wooden beams, and iron elements can be complemented by textiles such as burlap and leather. Key point: Industrial design relies on the use of textural layers to create a warm and welcoming aesthetic.

    Mixing Industrial with Modern Pieces

    Creating a successful industrial design is not only about incorporating industrial elements but also incorporating modern pieces to achieve a balance of elements. Pairing industrial furnishings with modern pieces such as a sleek sofa or a contemporary painting creates visual interest and depth in a space. Mixing industrial with modern pieces is achieved by balancing textures and materials. Modern furnishings with soft upholsteries such as velvet or suede can be paired with industrial materials such as concrete or steel, creating a stylish contrast of elements. Key point: Mixing industrial pieces with modern elements creates a well-balanced, visually interesting space that is both current and timeless. In conclusion, the industrial style is a unique and versatile design approach that can be utilized in different spaces with fantastic results. By using raw and unfinished materials such as metal, concrete, and wood while also embracing re-purposing and recycling old materials, an industrial space can be achieved. With its minimalistic qualities, vintage elements, and lived-in aesthetic, industrial style creates inviting, functional spaces perfect for work, relaxation, and everything in between.

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