Get the Look: Industrial Chic

A look that is currently taking the country by storm can best be described as ‘Industrial Chic’. Not two words you would usually see together, ‘industrial chic’ is about a clash of opposites – practical and fashionable, harsh and soft, masculine and feminine. This juxtaposition of elements also finds a shared harmony in simple and utilitarian design.

Industrial chic takes the recycling theme to the next level, and is based on vintage shop and flea market finds combined with old factory fittings (or factory fitting inspired pieces!). Old wheels, cogs and lighting gain a new lease of life through their placement alongside more contemporary furniture. Materials such as tin, iron and steel are also becoming more prominent in home furnishings and accessories (such as the popularity of sheet metal ‘Tolix’ chairs), creating a look that both harks to the past and future.

Reflecting the current economic situation of ‘make do and mend’ these old fittings would have been considered junk not long ago, but with clever and innovative applications, old trolley wheels now sit under coffee tables made from old wooden planks from shop floors. Industrial chic also incorporates the “upcycling” trend, with old materials being reworked into new objects. Cut budgets have forced us to become more creative with cheaper materials – resulting in the industrial chic look.

Left in their raw and unadorned state, these materials have an integrity derived not only from their history but also from their durability, having come from a bygone era when things were ‘made to last’. Stylishly weathered and worn, these salvaged items now form the backbone of a look adopted across a wide spectrum of households. Subtle industrial accents are being added to homes, whether it’s the use of old industrial metal lighting over a breakfast bar or an old factory sign used as art. The sense of nostalgia for the past, for industries and businesses that have come and gone, is strong.

Clinging on to memories of previous generations that have survived difficult times, these pieces are a tangible reminder of a time when the daily grit of life was accepted and when functionality was the only consideration. The use of old industrial items to adorn our homes is unlikely to wane any time soon, as their robust construction, simplicity and honestly are hard to replicate using more modern techniques. Their affordability is also attractive and the idea that something is being reused and given a new lease of life is also vastly appealing, functional and economically sensible.