Brutalism, a midcentury-style characterized by simple forms and raw concrete construction, is having a moment.
Originally applied to the work of modern architect Le Corbusier, the term comes from the French term “béton-brut”—literally ‘raw concrete’—the material that often dominates Brutalist buildings. Steel, glass, bronze, and iron also may figure prominently.
But Brutalism is about more than raw, unrefined materials. It also describes architecture, furniture, and accessories—now even website design—that is stark, minimal, and functional. Think Riverside Plaza on Minneapolis’s West Bank, designed by Ralph Rapson in 1973, or St. John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, the late ’50s Marcel Breuer masterpiece.
The staying power of midcentury design and a renewed attraction to minimalist stone, concrete, and blocky wooden shapes—particularly in furniture and accessories—have brought Brutalism back into the design spotlight.
If you like the minimal look and durable materials, you’ll find Brutalist pieces, vintage and new, from a multitude of sources.