Bru­tal­ist decor hefts some weight this fall

The Progress-Index - At Home - - ASK A DESIGNER - Kim Cook

Mus­cu­lar. Brawny. Dis­rup­tive. They don’t sound like de­scrip­tors for home dé­cor, do they?

Yet they per­fectly de­scribe one of the most in­ter­est­ing new di­rec­tions in fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories: Bru­tal­ist dé­cor.

Bru­tal­ist ar­chi­tec­ture was pop­u­lar­ized by Le Cor­bus­ier in the 1950s. A de­par­ture from the in­tri­cate Beaux Arts build­ing style, it was all about spare geo­met­ric forms, and ma­te­ri­als like un­fin­ished con­crete, steel and glass. New York’s Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art is a Bru­tal­ist de­sign by Mar­cel Breuer. Paul Ru­dolph de­signed the Art and Ar­chi­tec­ture Build­ing at Yale.

The style moved into in­te­rior dé­cor that also played with ab­stract forms and rough tex­tures, adding an earthy color pal­ette and in­cor­po­rat­ing other ma­te­ri­als like wood, plas­ter and mar­ble. Fur­ni­ture by de­sign­ers like Paul Evans and Curtis Jere found fans, and the style caught fire dur­ing the ‘60s and ‘70s. There are nice ex­am­ples on the sets of the movie “Amer­i­can Hus­tle” and TV’s “Mad Men.”

So why is Brutalism once again hav­ing a mo­ment?

“Brutalism is de­rived from the French word ‘brut,’ or raw, and I think it’s that sense of raw­ness that de­sign lovers are at­tracted to to­day,” ven­tures Anna Brock­away, co-founder and cu­ra­tor of the online vintage-de­sign mar­ket­place Chairish. “Be­cause of their brawny heav­i­ness, im­per­fect fin­ishes and rough, un­even di­men­sions, Bru­tal­ist pieces de­liver gutsy gravitas to a space.” (www. chairish.com )

Jeni Sand­berg, a mod­ern-de­sign dealer and con­sul­tant in Raleigh, North Carolina, adds, “Bru­tal­ist works make per­fect high-im­pact state­ment pieces, and col­lec­tors are snap­ping up pieces like wall sculp­tures and chan­de­liers.” (www.jenisand­berg.com )

And New York de­signer Daun Curry says, “De­sign should chal­lenge us, and

cre­at­ing con­trast in an en­vi­ron­ment gives ur­gency, in­ter­est and di­men­sion. Bru­tal­ist de­sign is fas­ci­nat­ing be­cause it bal­ances del­i­cacy with harsh ma­te­ri­al­ity.” (www.daun­curry.com )

Curry’s fa­vorite sources in­clude 1st Dibs and Flair Home Col­lec­tion. The for­mer of­fers vintage pieces like a 1967 Paul Evans patch­work steel cab­i­net, and a Lane dresser with a Bru­tal­ist sculp­tured wood mo­saic. Flair has a col­lec­tion of Bru­tal­ist ob­jets d’art in var­i­ous met­als and gilded plas­ter. (www.flairhome­col­lec­tion.com )

Kelly Wearstler’s Apollo stool is an art­ful stack of black or white mar­ble cir­cles; her El­liott chair is a sexy mix of curvy bronze and ex­otic fish leather; and her Ar­ray, Dis­trict and As­tral rugs bring Bru­tal­ist im­agery to the floor. (www.kel­ly­wearstler.com )

James Bear­den’s black­ened steel Sky­scraper floor lamp for Stu­dio Van den Akker com­bines ar­chi­tec­ture and func­tion. (www.stu­dio­van­de­nakker.com )

At Ar­te­ri­ors, long a source for Bru­tal­ist style, round slabs of forged iron form the in­dus­trial-chic Pot­ter lamp. The Payne chan­de­lier is a ki­netic ar­range­ment of hand­cut, gold-leafed iron shards, while a copse of welded iron sticks forms the Ecko lamp. Ar­mor-like me­tal­lic cir­cles and squares form the Ulysses and Monty pen­dants. (www.ar­te­ri­ors.com )

“I rec­om­mend pick­ing one state­ment-mak­ing piece to an­chor a space, like a chan­de­lier, credenza, cock­tail ta­ble or wall sculp­ture, and then mix­ing in pieces from other eras and styles,” ad­vises Brock­away, of Chairish.

“Also, many Bru­tal­ist pieces are dark in col­oration, so I pre­fer to bal­ance them with a lighter sur­round­ing palate.”

Think pow­er­ful yet play­ful, more “Mad Men” than “Mad Max.”

(KELLY WEARSTLER VIA AP)

In this photo pro­vided by Kelly Wearstler, the El­liott chair is a sexy mix of curvy bronze and leather. Itís avail­able with an ex­otic Ama­zo­nian fish leather as well.

(KELLY WEARSTLER VIA AP)

In this photo pro­vided by Kelly Wearstler, the Apollo stool is an art­ful stack of black or white mar­ble cir­cles that epit­o­mizes the Bru­tal­ist aes­thetic. Bru­tal­ist decor is one of the most in­ter­est­ing new di­rec­tions in fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories.

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