Your Must-Have Guide To The Industrial Design

Living room with sofas in loft style flat

Despite what some may think, industrial design (including industrial interior design) is anything but dead.

Listed among the most popular interior styles by many sites, the industrial design is a favourite of many people.

It is popular not just amongst cafe owners (#coffeeaddict), but increasingly home and office owners as well.

What are the reasons behind its growing popularity? Let’s find out.

Infographics on Industrial design
© Weredesign


1. Who Invented The Industrial Design?

Picture of the machine works of Richard Hartmann in Chemnitz
Photo by Norbert Kaiser on Wikipedia

To date, the origins of industrial design remains a mystery.

While some people attribute Joseph Claude Sinel as the pioneer of the industrial design. Whereas others reckon Christopher Dresser (a designer come design theorist) came up with it.

Then, there are sites which suggest that industrial design was conceptualized in the early 20th century.

So… which of these versions is correct? To be frank, we don’t know either.

What we do know, however, is this: the industrial design is gaining traction, and is showing absolutely no signs of stopping.


2. What Is The Industrial Design All About?

A cafe with an industrial design
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

Industrial is all about the raw, the edgy, and the bold.

It is gritty and borders occasionally on harsh, yet has an eccentric charm about it that many adore.

Unlike other interior design styles which seek to conceal building materials (messy wires are a definite no-no), industrial interior design displays its construction proudly and unabashedly.

Think exposed pipes and ducts; vintage furniture and accessories; wood and metal surfaces… The list could go on.


3. What Can Industrial Design Be Combined With?

Scandustrial AKA Scandinavian + Industrial
From Max Pixel

While industrial design can be used alone, the usage of too many industrial elements could potentially produce a cold and detached feeling.

Because of this, the industrial design is frequently combined with other interior styles, such as Scandinavian.

Although industrial and Scandinavian styles appear to be polar opposites, the two are actually more similar than you think.

Both revolve around the theme of “nature”, albeit in different ways. While industrial celebrates objects in their original forms, Scandinavian sings praises of mother nature.

Together, they form the “Scandustrial” style.

As its name implies, the “Scandustrial” style combines the best of both worlds. Scandinavian lends industrial just the right amount of warmth, to create a homely feel.

The result? A comfortable and casual style that is sustainable, and a house you’ll always want to come home to.


4. What Is The Significance Of The Industrial Design?

Living room with sofas in loft style flat

Industrial design is important because the concept translates into objects which are not merely pretty, but practical too.

Many designers today focus on form and tend to ignore/neglect function; industrial designers, however, make products which fulfil both criteria.

As it employs a “no-frills” approach, everything we see, touch and are surrounded by in every day can be said to be influenced by this style.

Some examples are the desk you work at; the cellphone in your pocket; the microwave oven in your kitchen. These are objects we all can’t live without, no?


5. Why Choose The Industrial Design?

The typical industrial look is rough and rugged
Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash

So you’re stuck in a dilemma right now. I bet you’re thinking, “Sounds great… but what’s the catch?”

Well, worry not – this section is for you. We’ll take you through the pros and cons of choosing an industrial design.

Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a good idea of what you want.


Choose Industrial If: 

  • A “raw”, unfinished feel appeals to you
  • You have seen an actual industrial setting and liked it
  • Products with industrial designs interest you
  • You’re a fan of black/white/grey and metallic shades


Don’t Choose Industrial If: 

  • You prefer a “warmer” feeling for your home
  • Although the idea appeals to you, you can’t visualize yourself living in such an environment long term
  • You prefer a more classy, modern look


6. How To Decorate For An Industrial Look?

An industrial home is a beautiful home
Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash


Rustic Is Always Right

Many shades of brown, grey and green fall into this category.

These 3 colours make excellent complements to metallic shades such as chrome, aluminium and gold.

As for colors you should always look out for, these can be used either for furniture, lighting or accents.


Big, Bold And Beautiful

wood and metal

When it comes to industrial design, 2 types of materials immediately come to mind: wood and metal.

The former is especially important as furniture in the industrial design comprises mainly of wood.

No industrial look, we reckon, is complete without a wooden table of some sort.

A few of (several) options available on the market are an end table, coffee table, and dining table.

In terms of metal, Reinforced Concrete (otherwise known as RC) is gaining popularity for its durability and the visual weight it gives to any space.

Not only does this cool concrete table seat up to 8 people, but it also looks pretty neat as well!


Keep The Rugs Simple

Studio flat with brick wall and fireplace and modern furniture.

Generally speaking, rugs with bright colors (e.g. orange) and those with distinct geometric patterns (e.g. lattices) do not fit well in the overall industrial aesthetic.

In lieu of these, consider something that is faded, dark in color, or with a traditional/ethnic pattern.


Aim For Some Contrast

Patterned carpet and chair at desk in grey room interior with posters and bike above bed. Real photo

Never underestimate the importance of good contrast: it keeps things interesting, while ensuring that the result isn’t messy/chaotic.

Below are some ways contrast could work in this design style: colorful vs subdued, old vs new, DIY vs store-bought.


It’s All In The Lighting

Modern loft dining room 3d render,There are polished concrete wall and floor,Furnished with black steel and wood furniture,Decorate with industrial style lamp.

Although frequently overlooked, lighting fixtures in industrial design layouts can either elevate or ruin the overall look.

Like how chandeliers are frequently used in shabby chic and modern styles, try modern steel or vintage lighting for an industrial feel.


“Industrial design keeps the customer happy, his client in the black and the designer happy,” said American-French industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

So, essentially, industrial design is beneficial for all the parties involved (yippee).

For what it’s worth, we doubt industrial design’s going away anytime soon. In fact, there is room for more variations, which we will likely see down the road.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here