It’s a BRUTAL Design!

1.    Brutally Honest

Brutalist style is a form of architecture and design that emerged in the mid-20th century and continues to influence contemporary design today. This style is characterized by its use of raw, unrefined materials and exposed structural elements, creating an industrial and utilitarian aesthetic. Some of the folks like to call it the “Industrial Design” or “brutalist industrial design” theme. 

One of the key features of brutalist style is its use of concrete and other raw materials. Brutalist buildings and interiors often feature exposed concrete walls, floors, and ceilings, leaving the rough texture of the material on display. This creates a sense of honesty and authenticity in the space, as the materials are not hidden behind layers of decoration. The use of raw materials also allows for a sense of continuity between the interior and exterior of a building, as the materials used in the construction of the building are reflected in the design of the interior. 

A Brutalist Interior Design – Image source: Dezeen

2.    The Brutal History

Brutalism originated in the 1950s and 1960s as a response to the ornate and decorative styles of the past. Architects and designers sought to create buildings and interiors that were honest and utilitarian, eschewing the decorative flourishes of the past in favor of a pared-down aesthetic that celebrated the beauty of raw materials and the functionality of the space. 

Brutalism was popular in the mid-20th century, particularly in Europe and North America. It was embraced by architects and designers who sought to create buildings and interiors that were honest and functional, eschewing the ornate and decorative styles of the past. Brutalist buildings were also quite popular during the 70s in Singapore. The Golden Mile Complex, the Singapore State Courts and OCBC Tower are all icons of the brutalist movement.

Source: TimeOut - Singapore

Golden Mile Complex – Image source: Biblioasia

3.    The Brutal Look

Brutalist interiors often have a minimalist feel to them, with furniture and decor kept to a minimum. The focus is on the space itself, with the materials and structure of the building taking centre stage. Furniture pieces are often simple and functional, with clean lines and a lack of ornamentation. Decor items are similarly pared down, with a focus on functionality over aesthetics.

Some may argue that a “brutal” themed home may be too cold or raw looking. However, if complemented with warm hues and accessorising, it can actually be very appealing and full of character. Image Source:  Dezeen

Today, brutalist style can be seen in a variety of interior design contexts. Residential spaces, such as apartments and houses, often incorporate brutalist elements such as exposed concrete walls or floors. Commercial spaces, such as restaurants and offices, also embrace brutalist style, using raw materials and exposed structural elements to create a sense of authenticity and utilitarian beauty.

Somehow, the brutalist industrial look had also inspired me in some of my earlier works (Seen @ Holland V) a design and built project designed by me. You can still see the timeless quality of the design.


One of the reasons for the continued popularity of brutalist style is its versatility. While the aesthetics of brutalism may seem harsh or industrial at first glance, they can be adapted to a variety of spaces and lifestyles. The use of raw materials and exposed structural elements can be softened with the addition of warm lighting, soft furnishings, and natural elements such as plants. When incorporated into a space with care and intentionality, brutalist elements can add a sense of depth and character that is unique and compelling.

4.    Be Brutally Daring!

With all the saturated Scandinavian styled homes popping up everywhere, perhaps you can explore this interesting style! Brutalist style may be raw and harsh with its use of concrete and other raw materials, it is really a versatile style that can be adapted to a variety of spaces and lifestyles. Singaporeans like to ‘rojak’ a bit with their interior styles. You can quite literally do a 50/50 mix of “Oriental x Brutalism” style to add a touch of character to your space! As we continue to seek out authenticity and simplicity in our lives, brutalist style offers a refreshing and grounding approach to interior design, and oh, there’s an actual additional benefit to add, raw surfaces cost lesser to build, and that’s an honest, brutal truth!

Posted on 14th July 2023

Written by Astley Ng – the designerd.

SIXIDES Editorial Team


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