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Brutal Judgment

A Design Revival

· Design

In a time when design aesthetics seem to cycle faster than diet trends, and nothing feels original, we are surprised and relieved to hear an unlikely whisper of a gem like “Brutalism.” Those of us that aren’t architecture majors nor in the baby boomer generation will need both a written and visual explanation for this architectural and interior design concept.

Source: - Workshop, Palm Springs 

We’ll be brief

Brutalism architecture was a movement that was short lived- a form of design only sprinkled through metropolitan areas from the 1950’s that generally died out in the early-mid 1970’s. “Brutalism” the name, is well deserved as it describes architecture that is monolithic, looming, naked and often concrete.

The lines are brash, the function serious and the hue’s often monochromatic. Original brutalist buildings were often photographed in black and white for a reason- it showed their stark, nonsensical nature.

Source: - Orange county offices and court house Goshen NYC 1967

This form of architecture took hold at a time when the world was struggling to reform after the atrocities of WWII and the simplicity of design was more than a statement, it was an ethical stance.

Brutalist buildings were commonly built for impoverished neighborhoods and onlookers somewhat appreciated the honesty of them. Instead of covering up the woes of the past, Brutalist buildings stated the hard and tough truth.

Source: - Habitat 67 , Montreal Canada

Brutalist architecture has been criticized in recent decades for its aggressiveness and many buildings have been demolished over the years to be replaced with more palatable modern structures. However, over the last few years several groups of historians and design sentimentalists have voiced their desire to preserve these rebel buildings- proving a revival is indeed among us.

Source: - Petrova Gora Monument, by Vojin Bakic

What to expect

This hush of a Brutalist revival that is slowly trickling into artsy news outlets and highly regarded design forums will not be a virus like the explosive Mid Century Modern or Industrial aesthetics. This trend will likely be a shorter lived, refreshing niche that only eccentrics and the wealthy display. With major architecture a costly feat all on its own, it is expected that brutalist interior design will be its most used recycled expression.

Just like Mid Century interior design was given that “Modern” twist, you can expect “Brutalist Modern” to be something perhaps the most astute decorators might splash off the tongue in the coming years.

Brutalist elements become more palatable when applied to interiors, being that the harshness is often paired with warmer tones and themes, and/or constructed out of materials such as wood and resin. In can be said that Brutalist interior design fits in quite nicely with the au courant interiors of today.

Source: - Van Wassenhove House

Source: - Carla Fernandez, Pedro Reyes Home-Mexico City

Source: - Sheats Goldstein House by John Lautner

Why Now?

One might ask "why now," in the second decade of the 21st century is Brutalism experiencing a revival? Some might argue it is being unearthed because of a dire need for design that shocks and awes. We have long been stagnant on what now feels safe and monotone. 

Others may argue it has to do with the attitude of today’s zeitgeist. This may be a reach, but the millennial generation as a whole seeks the truth, in society, in corporate America, in politics and perhaps even in their surroundings. With a constant search for integrity in today’s harsh reality, Brutalism encompasses a unique candor, it boldly states, “this is exactly who I am.”

Source: - Casa Butanta by Paulo Mendes de la Rocha

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