This contemporary furnishing style in industrial look is one of the hottest trends worldwide today. As a result, factory and port buildings converted into lofts are now among the most sought-after and exclusive properties, fetching top prices on the housing market. For example, the Docklands in London or Hamburg's Hafencity have been pioneers and nuclei for a rapidly booming architectural trend since the 1990s. What is curious about this is that lofts were originally set up in the forties in England and the USA in old, vacant factory buildings as particularly inexpensive living space for a rapidly expanding need for space.
Currently, innovative interior designers have taken it upon themselves to counteract the galloping prices with intelligent, affordable concepts. It no longer takes a luxury loft in the most expensive parts of town to call an industrial interior design your own. For a long time now, the Industrial Style can also be realized in a normal living environment.
Development of the Industrial Style
The housing concept, initially born out of necessity, gradually came into fashion as early as the sixties. It was initially artists, creative people, students and hippies who discovered the old factory floors for themselves and used them as studios. They quickly began to live in them as well. The spatial concept of an apartment with areas completely free of partitions and walls fit well with the revolutionary thinking of freeing oneself from the "restrictive boundaries of the establishment". The concept of a traditional apartment with living room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, carefully separated by walls and doors, was so out of step with the zeitgeist of a modern postwar generation.
Jazz musicians also increasingly used disused factory rooms for concerts. In 1970, for example, saxophonist Sam Rivers opened a ground-floor loft as a studio and performance space. Soon it became "chic" to visit the lofts, and the run on the old industrial spaces as living spaces began. More recently, by the way, after decades of waning interest in jazz and increasing commercialization, a "revolution" is taking place in New York: Recently, the crackling music climate of the awakening years is returning to the old lofts. For a few dollars, jazz fans listen to the new jazz avant-garde. This is not surprising, since the industrial style fits perfectly with this music genre.
Cycles in the urban environment
In urban development, certain patterns can be seen that repeat themselves on a rotational basis. Almost always, the most famous "in-trends" have their origin in some avant-garde creatives exploring new forms of expression or social life. In poor, often conflictual neighborhoods, artists, musicians, intellectuals, students and "odd types" meet, create new forms of living and coexistence. The presence of the intellectual avant-garde attracts the first curious people, who begin to get bored in the perfect, commercial ambience of the established neighborhoods. The first "trendy" places such as cafés, organic food stores or alternative art galleries are quickly opened, and smart real estate agents and investors recognize the potential of the still affordable district. The buildings in the zone are gradually renovated, prices rise, the influx of a wealthy class of people begins. This leads to the displacement of the "discoverers" of the neighborhood, they begin to "conquer" another, still unknown neighborhood. The development process starts all over again.
Good examples are the urban flight of the seventies, the rediscovery of unkempt old towns by creative people, the massive inner-city redevelopment programs of the eighties, until they lost their attractiveness again and the flight to ultra-modern neighborhoods began. The movement has since reversed, and most old cities have the highest rents and land prices in the entire city.
The Industrial Style on its way to becoming a trendsetter
The Industrial Style is no exception in this cycle. Nevertheless, it must be noted that it does indeed seem to be much more durable than other urban living trends. For almost half a century, prices for Industrial Style buildings have known only one direction, and that is steeply upward. So far, there is no end in sight to this trend. This may be due to the fact that the number of "real" lofts in all cities is very limited. In Germany in particular, most of the old factory buildings fell victim to the bombing raids during World War II. But even in the following decades, many vacant factory buildings were still demolished to make way for urgently needed new development areas or modern commercial buildings. It was not until the aforementioned famous harbor lofts in London and Hamburg that the trend turned around in the 1980s, too late for most of the old factory floors.
Therefore, until a few years ago, living in industrial style was reserved only for a small elite, which had the necessary means to purchase both the appropriate loft and the exclusive furniture. Thus, an industrial style living room with a few select pieces of furniture can quickly cost a high five-figure amount just from the interior design. Fortunately, times have changed. Innovative interior designers nowadays know how to make exceptional industrial design accessible to a large number of people. To this end, a democratization process is currently taking place in interior design. A valuable Industrial Interior Design is no longer reserved for a handful of people, but has become affordable thanks to intelligent planning and the creation of an international network.
What characterizes the Industrial Style?
The name says it all: the industrial ambience of old factory buildings provides the template for the look that has now long been established in the high-end residential sector. Typical features of Industrial Interior Design are, for example:
- unrendered brick walls
- exposed concrete
- steel columns and visible ceiling beams
- Visible wooden beams
- steel stairs and railings
- stainless steel industrial kitchen
- Expenditure installations in copper and stainless steel pipes
- lamps in office or factory look
- open floor plan with room dividers
- modern, minimalist furniture or
- furniture made of recycled materials
- few, large-format art objects and pictures
In general, the original Industrial Style primarily uses "raw" materials for walls, floors and installations. For example, instead of high-gloss chrome surfaces, you will find ungalvanized pig iron or matte stainless steel. Often, the entire living area makes an "unfinished" impression due to the untreated building materials or only half-plastered walls.
It should not be concealed that nowadays the term "Industrial Style" is much more general than in the early days and is definitely also used for luxurious living environments that have been perfectly finished down to the last detail and only have a few typical design elements of Industrial Interior Design. For a long time, a high-quality precious wood parquet or an expensive stucco plaster can also be found in noble lofts.
The Industrial Style in architecture
The Industrial Style, which originated in old factory buildings, is now also inspiring contemporary architects to design new buildings in the look of antique factories. Modern office buildings pick up on the aesthetics of these former workshops and production halls and integrate them into their design concept. Spacious steel beams, metal structures that continue into the office furniture, installation and construction elements in contrasting colors can be found in many architectural projects of the last generation.
In private projects, too, architects draw on the rich canon of Industrial Style to create impressive houses that stand out pleasantly from the mass of standardized architecture. This applies both to completely new buildings and to renovation projects of old buildings. Especially in cities such as Zurich, Basel, Berlin or Hamburg, which have a long tradition of industrial architecture, you will find many examples of building extensions, whether as extensions or attics, that take typical elements of the Industrial Style and integrate them into the design in a creative way. These typically include unclad support structures, open floor plans, split levels, open steel staircases, and unrendered walls combined with wood floors and furnishings made of unfinished materials.
The center of the projects is almost always the industrial style living room with its own style of interior design, oriented to industrial halls. However, an extensive construction project and an architect are not always necessary if you dream of an Industrial Style living room. Thanks to modern industrial interior design concepts, nowadays, it is relatively easy to bring the ambiance of real factory floors into your own home as well. Neither an expensive remodeling nor a high investment is needed to turn a featureless living room into an extravagant Industrial Style Living Room. The smart combination of some choice furniture, a matching floor and some touch-ups on the walls will transform your aging home into an exciting industrial style living experience.
Inspiring style variety for an individual home
An Industrial Style living room is not the only way to turn your home into a creative design experience. On the contrary, it is precisely the diversity of styles that allows you to create your own personal ambiance. While for fans of industrial architecture, furnishing an industrial style living room is the dream, other people may want a particularly elegant or cozy living ambiance. Our interior styles overview will make your choice easier and help you find your individual interior style. From minimalist to mid-century to spectacular glam style, there's something for everyone. Discover our journey through the many interior styles and say goodbye to the boring, featureless living style of the usual furniture stores!
Still undecided about which style is just right for you? Then simply take our Upscale Style Quiz and intuitively feel your way to "your" style. Have fun with it!