Born of imposing concrete buildings, Brutalism extends over the years to design and art. A world where raw materials are expressed through clean lines and geometric shapes.
Born to be concrete
Brutalism is an architectural style that draws its essence from concrete. From the 1950s, this movement offered imposing buildings in total sobriety, playing with dimensions, the repetition of geometric shapes, the multiplication of windows…
The architects are attached to the purity of the “raw material” and do not dress the facades with various ornaments. This involves imposing clean lines and enhancing the concrete in its rawest possible appearance. The movement really emerged in the post-war English suburbs and has grown around the world.
The Hungarians Marcel Breur and Erno Goldfinger, the Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer, the Franco-Swiss Le Corbusier, the Americans Frank Lloyd Wright and Bertrand Goldberg, the American-Estonian Louis Khan, the German-American Mies Van der Rohe, the Polish Jacques Kalisz will participate among others in the influence of brutalism. Besides raw concrete, these architectural icons will also work with rough wood, bare bricks, patinated plaster, etc.
Some emblems of brutalist architecture: La Cité radieuse by Le Corbusier in Marseille, the Salk Institute by Louis Kahn in California, the Whitney Museum by Marcel Breuer and the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright in New York…
From outside to inside
If the foundations of brutalist architecture are based on concrete, design has opened its arms to wood, glass, metal, brick, ceramic ... Designers work these materials in the service of clean lines playing with their texture and irregularities.
The materials remain raw, the structure is robust, the inspiration is organic, the primitive forms and earthy hues. The challenge is to sublimate the material without distorting it. Some focus on a specific material to conceptualize their piece, others play on contrasts in the form of patchwork or by mixing concrete and travertine, for example.
Some figures of brutalist design
Specializing in metal fusion, Paul Evans was one of the first American designers to create brutalist furniture in the 1960s. Irene Schampaert and Iris de Feijter, Alexandre Noll, Pierre Chapo, Willy Guhl, Charlotte Perriand, Ron Arad, Adrian Pearsall, Marc Weinstein, Svend Aage Holm, Marcello Fantoni and many others around the world have also succumbed to this movement…
Each piece becomes a work of art, and the "primitive" aspect of the object reconnects man to the essential.