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What is Industrial Interior Design

by Marianne Stenger
Posted: February 23, 2020

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Interior designers work in many different settings, from privates homes to hotels, offices or department stores. One type of interior design that has been increasing in popularity, especially among environmentally-conscious consumers, is sleek industrial interior design.

But what exactly is meant by industrial interior design? To answer this and other questions you may have about this growing trend in decorating, here’s a look at where industrial-style interior design came from and how you can design a modern industrial interior yourself.

What is industrial interior design?

Industrial interior design is a style of interior design that combines raw and rough materials with modern elements. This blend of both old and new allows designers to make use of natural, recycled and repurposed materials, while still maintaining a sleek and modern look.

If you’ve ever seen a workspace or office with an open ceiling where the pipes and ducts were not hidden, or a loft apartment with exposed wooden beams and brick walls, then you already have an idea of what an industrial interior might look like.

Industrial interior design first emerged in the 70s, when many older factories and warehouses were closing down and being converted into living spaces. Rather than completely covering up the industrial look of these buildings, designers began decorating around it.

In recent years, this style has increased in popularity due to its focus on showcasing a building’s history, as well as its use of scrap wood and other recycled materials. It’s also simply a great way to create a casual and laidback atmosphere.

Characteristics of industrial interior design

Although industrial interior design tends to be quite flexible, it’s characterised by sleek minimalism, neutral colours, and no-fuss, stripped back architectural details. Just think of the bare-bones look of old warehouses and factories. Important characteristics of this style of decorating include:

  • Exposed raw elements 

Leaving certain elements exposed that would normally be concealed is an important feature of industrial interior design. This includes original brickwork or pipes and ducts, but also wood, metal and concrete surfaces.

  • Natural finishes and neutral tones

Another characteristic of the industrial decorating style is its use of natural finishes and neutral tones. Rather than brightly painted walls or patterned tiles, designers make use of grey concrete, natural unfinished wood, and sleek metallic details.

  • Functional open spaces

The emphasis with industrial interiors is usually on functionality, which is why this style often favours open plan living. For example, by having the kitchen, dining and sitting area in a single space with no clear dividers, designers are able to create the illusion of more space.

  • Use of upcycled and recycled materials

Most industrial interiors are furnished with classic vintage-inspired pieces and antique light fixtures. Designers also make use of upcycled furniture and materials, such as pallet sofas or picture frames made from salvaged wood.

How to create an industrial interior ?

If you’re looking to bring the industrial interior design look to your own space or the homes and offices of your clients, think about ways to incorporate the building’s natural charm in your décor.

 This might mean leaving brickwork exposed or refinishing an old hardwood floor rather than replacing it. Choosing vintage lighting in cool metallic colours as well as functional furnishings and upcycled accessories in neutral tones will also help you stick to the industrial theme.

Before tackling a project of this nature, it’s a good idea to spend some time familiarising yourself with the industrial style. Look for examples of it in home décor magazines and websites, or start a Pinterest page where you pin all your favourite images of industrial interiors that inspire you.

Want to learn more about interior design and decoration principles? The Open Colleges’ MSF40118 Certificate IV in Interior Decoration is an excellent introduction to interior design and will equip you with the practical skills you need to start working within the industry. Get in touch with us today to receive a free course guide and consultation with one of our experienced education advisors.


Marianne Stenger

Marianne is a London-based freelance Writer and Journalist with extensive experience covering all things learning and development. Her articles have been featured by the likes of ABC Education, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Psych Central.

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