Industrial furniture design style origins

Industrial and rustic design furniture is quickly becoming more popular in the everyday domestic household. With its raw iron or steel and worn wood, it’s a look that fits the majority of contemporary decors.  Not only does it look great, but these designs are tough, durable and will hold their look for many years to come. In this blog post we’ll take a look at the history of this type of furniture design and where my own handmade retro and industrial design inspiration comes from.

With industrial style decors starting to make an appearance in the United States back in the 70s and spreading further into Europe in the 80s, the style came about off the back of converted workshops and factories that were in keeping with the original style of the buildings.  The rustic and raw materials and furniture commonly found in these spaces were previously large open commercial spaces, then converted into domestic living spaces.  Initially this was done as a cost effective method, up-cycling fixtures and fittings, re-purposing them to fit and make a comfortable living space.  The trend started in New York as artists looked for affordable, spacious housing.  More recently however, the industrial look and feel is reaching a premium as it’s fast become a sought after theme for a wide variety of home interiors.

My inspiration

I’m a big fan of the modern industrial movement as it presents some exciting design ideas that can incorporate the re-use of existing materials.  As sustainability is at the forefront of the next generation I believe this style is here to stay for quite some time.  There’s also something very satisfying from taking something old and battered, and making it beautiful again.  My inspiration comes from a number of places including TV program Salvage Hunters with Drew Pritchard, fellow woodworkers on Instagram, Pinterest (of course) and a long history for the love of architectural design from the last century.  Some of my favourite architects, designers and artists include Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Ray-Bernice Eames.

fallingwater- frank-lloyd wright
Fallingwater- Frank-Lloyd Wright

Image source

Other industrial themes and materials

Industrial design doesn’t just end with furniture, we’re also seeing it being used greatly in architecture, such as construction using shipping containers and features such as exposed brickwork and pipes, concrete floors, tables and worktops exposing elements to give that rustic warehouse feel.

Lighting also plays a big part in the industrial look.  Key themes of this includes raw steel, warehouse pendant lighting fixtures, vintage filament bulbs, weathered wood and large open windows that allow heaps of natural light into a space.  Combining these elements into a room can really make a living space feel alive with historic stories and give new leases of life to old materials that would otherwise be scrapped.

Pictures sourced from

My designs

My larger style industrial dining tables are ideal for a number of interiors, especially pubs and bustling restaurants that require tough and sturdy furniture for a rustic interior.  For the majority I use reclaimed materials found on Marketplace, Freecycle, down at the local recycle centre, friends, family and customers removing old waste.  I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to wood, but it means I’m never short on materials to create my designs.

The above two industrial dining tables both feature 70mm box steel legs and a thick wooden top.  The one on the left is made from sustainably sourced American white oak whilst the one on the right was made from recycled decking beams.

I love the industrial thick steel legs on this table design, it not only looks cool but is also really strong.  These tables will certainly stand the test of time.

Hairpin legs are also very much in fashion now and fit an industrial theme along with the mid century or Scandinavian styles that you’ll find on my website shop.  These coffee tables offer a contemporary look and fit with a whole variety of interior layouts and designs.  The best bit is they’re made with 100% reclaimed wood.

Here are a few more industrial themed items that I’ve made in no particular order.  Please feel free to browse my shop, visit my etsy shop or get in touch to discuss any specific requirements you might have for your own unique design ideas.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.  Please take a look at some of my other posts and feel free to leave a comment.

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