Embracing Modern Brutalist in Small Spaces: How to Add Boldness to Your Urban Home
Imagine living in a concrete jungle, with a touch of raw sophistication and brutal honesty. That's the essence of Brutalism, an architectural and interior design style that has made its way into the hearts and homes of many urban dwellers. if you've ever wandered through the concrete jungle of a big city like Toronto or Montreal, you might have come across some strikingly raw, imposing, and unapologetically bold structures.
These buildings embody Brutalism, a design style that emerged in the 1950s and has made a remarkable comeback in recent years. With space being a premium in urban homes, let's explore how you can introduce elements of Brutalism into your small living spaces, creating a stylish yet functional oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. In this article, we will explore the fundamentals of Brutalism and provide some tips on how you can bring this style into your small space in big cities like Toronto. So sit back, relax, and let's dive into the world of bold and beautiful Brutalism!
What is Brutalism?
Brutalism, derived from the French term "béton brut" meaning "raw concrete," is an architectural style characterized by massive, monolithic forms and a heavy use of concrete, steel, and glass. The style is often associated with socialist and institutional architecture, as Brutalism emerged in the mid-20th century, predominantly in Europe and North America for its cost-effective and functional approach to building design.
Habitat 67, Montreal, Moshe Sadie, Completed in 1967, one of the icons of Brutalist Architecture. Habitat 67 began as Safdie’s McGill University graduate thesis and evolved into one of Canada’s most recognizable brutalist structures. His first design to ever be realized, the set of 354 interlocking, prefabricated concrete units, containing 158 one- to four-bedroom apartments, each with a roof garden, was originally presented at Montreal’s 1967 World’s Fair. Situated along the Saint Lawrence River, the dramatic complex—with its cubic modules that jut out into the surrounding space—proposed the idea of an urban “village,” which Safdie considered a more humane and organic alternative to traditional apartment living.
Brutalist interiors often feature exposed materials, strong geometric shapes, and minimal ornamentation, creating a raw, industrial aesthetic. Originally a response to the sleek and elegant styles of the time, Brutalism broke the mold by embracing raw, unfinished materials, and showcasing the strength and solidity of buildings. In interior design, this style is all about celebrating the beauty in simplicity, with an emphasis on function, honesty, and a deep connection to the materiality of the space.
Modern Brutalist Elements in Small Spaces
1. Bold, raw materials
Concrete is the quintessential Brutalist material, and it can be used in a variety of ways to add an industrial edge to your small space.
Exposed concrete walls or floors are perfect for creating a strong, minimalist aesthetic. If you're renting and can't change the walls or flooring, opt for concrete furniture or accent pieces like planters, tables, or sculptures.
2. Maximize Natural Light
Brutalist buildings are known for their large windows that let in floods of natural light. In a small urban home, take advantage of every opportunity to introduce sunlight by using sheer curtains or blinds, and placing mirrors strategically to reflect light into darker corners.
3. Play with Geometry
Geometric shapes are a key aspect of Brutalist design. Introduce these shapes through furniture, textiles, or artwork. For instance, you can use a bold, angular bookcase or a geometric rug to create a statement in your living room.
4. Incorporate Industrial Materials
Brutalist design often utilizes industrial materials like steel and glass, which can be incorporated into your home in various ways.
Try adding a steel-framed chair, a glass coffee table, or metal shelving to your space, blending form and function seamlessly.
5. Keep It Minimal
One of the guiding principles of Brutalism is minimalism. When designing a small space, clutter is the enemy. Stick to a "less is more" approach by choosing multipurpose furniture and clever storage solutions to keep your space looking clean and organized.
6. Warm It Up
Brutalist spaces can feel cold and stark, but with the right touches, you can create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Use soft textiles like plush rugs, throw pillows, and blankets to add a layer of warmth and coziness.
Introduce natural elements like wood, plants, and organic shapes to balance the rawness of concrete and steel.
7. Be Bold with Art
Brutalist interiors provide the perfect backdrop for bold, statement-making art. Opt for large-scale pieces, murals, or sculptures that grab attention and spark conversation.
Don't be afraid to mix styles; a striking abstract painting or a minimalist sculpture can work wonders in a Brutalist-inspired space.
8. Choose a Limited Color Palette
To achieve a cohesive Brutalist look, stick to a limited color palette. Focus on neutral tones like gray, black, and white, and incorporate pops of color through accessories and art. This approach will help create a visually clean and streamlined space.
Embracing Brutalism in small spaces might appear challenging at first, but with a touch of ingenuity and a dedication to minimalism, you can craft a striking, modern living area that reflects your personal style. By integrating raw materials, experimenting with scale and texture, and focusing on functional design, you can transform your small urban home into a bold and captivating sanctuary that celebrates the beauty of Brutalism. So go ahead, take the plunge, and let the raw charm of Brutalist design elevate your small space living experience.
To get some design inspirations, you can check out our extensive collection of minimalist modern furniture that is perfect for all interior design styles at Mim, or get in touch with us.
If you live in the Toronto area, you can also drop by to view our beautifully crafted furniture in person.
By Anh Ly
Designer of Mim Concept
Leave a comment