It's impossible not to notice how popular industrial furniture has become in the last decade. Coffee shops in the world’s trendiest locales from Dalston to Kreuzberg adopted it as their default set up, coinciding with the rise of the warehouse loft, fixed gear bicycles and French worker jackets. It became an interior trend so big that it was hard to go to a new restaurant or bar without seeing its influence.
Exposed brick walls, functional looking metal stools, and up-cycled wood are just some of the hallmarks of industrial interior design. But there is more to it than that, and if you want to incorporate it into your home there are plenty of interesting new ways you can take it. From its history to the key pieces and brands that do it best, here’s everything you need to know about industrial furniture.
Industrial furniture wasn’t originally designed for the home. Similar to workwear and functional clothing, it had a life before consumer use, with items - from tables to lamps - produced to serve a purpose. Industrial furniture, by design, was easy to mass produce, made as it was to serve the manufacturing industry and factory workers.
This meant materials used were deliberately hard-wearing and designed to take a beating. Stainless steel and cast iron were utilised extensively for table legs, lighting fixtures and chairs so that if they took a knock it didn’t matter. Objects were designed without flourish too, which is one of the strong points of industrial style furniture today - they are often simple pieces which blend well with a wide range of interior designs and styles, meaning its easy to incorporate into your home.
Overhead lighting fixtures are perhaps the easiest way to incorporate an industrial feel into your home. Perfect for the kitchen, classic pendant dome fittings work well with a range of existing interior styles and add a feeling of ‘warehouse loft’ to even the smallest of ground floor flats. Alternatively, brass fittings are ideal for exposed lightbulbs, perfect for bathrooms or the bedroom.
An industrial style dining table can transform a living room. Usually on the larger size and made from solid wood with sturdy metal legs, such tables would be have been present on factory floors through the first half of the 20th century, until newer technology and computerisation made them obsolete. Give one a new life by going vintage, or purchase a new one and allow it to develop its own patina with time.
Usually with a base made from hard-wearing materials such as steel or iron, industrial bar stools add a rugged edge to kitchen islands or, of course, actual bars. Many will have adjustable heights, which was necessary back in the day to accommodate for the varying heights of factory workers as they worked on drafting tables or machinery. This is just as useful today, allowing you to find the perfect drinking height.
While perhaps not as usual in actual factories due to their smaller size, industrial side tables are exceptionally handy today, working perfectly for the bedside or next to the sofa. Look out for tables that are inspired by industrial design, such as this Frama design, which is made from hand-hammered, riveted aluminium.
One of the most usual tools on a factory work station, and one of the most stylish today, industrial lamps come in a wide range of styles and sizes. One of the most famous designs comes from Anglepoise, with its signature spring loaded mechanism that’s no doubt benefitted countless industry workers over the decades.
Based in London, Industville is one of the premier producers of industrial style lighting found anywhere. Inspired by the metal-heavy designs of yesteryear, it manufactures a wide range of styles, from caged wall lights to dome pendant lamps and more elaborate glass funnel fittings.
Anglepoise is most well known for its 1227 lamp, which is nothing short of a design classic. But the British brand also produces a range of spin-off designs including smaller desk lamps, floor lamps as well as industrial-style conical wall lamps. As far as lamps go, you can’t go wrong with the original, and with its ability to shine in basically any direction, it’s as functional as it’s ever been.
Danish brand Frama applies its fastidious eye to a range of disciplines from its signature rivet side tables to bar stools and even hair conditioner. Look out for its take on the former, made with a raw steel base and upgraded with a natural leather seat, which will darken over time and take on a unique patina.
While not strictly an industrial furniture brand, Maze Interiors takes inspiration from industrial styles, executing its designs in a more contemporary manner. A brand signature is its use of metal, from sheet metal to powder coated as well as wire, the latter of which it applies to lightweight shelving you’d expect to see in an old factory changing room.
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