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Modern Brutalist Inspired Spaces: The Antithesis of the Glamourous Instagram Home

10 November 2022

Born (or rather reborn) from the ashes of an apocalyptic post-World War era, the brutalist design movement is characterised by its sombre, raw, and unfinished style that tends to feature a predominately monochromatic colour palette and industrial materials like concrete, wood, and steel.

A polarising style, the brutalist aesthetic is definitely not one for the masses. For every lover of this minimalistic, and functional style, there are those that cannot comprehend its harshness, and lack of decorative design.

In this special feature, here are 3 designers who bucked the trend of typical Pinterest-worthy homes to pay homage to this historical design movement, transforming typical Singaporean spaces into stunning modern brutalist homes.

Dawson by Jimmy

In this Dawson Condo project, designer Jimmy draws inspiration from the brutalist style without overwhelming the space with the typical harshness and austerity associated with the style. Throughout the space, balance is key to achieving the dramatic effect of brutalism without a sense of being oppressive.

In the main living space, the deliberate choice of a light feature wooden wall, sleek modern surfaces of the tv console, soft leather sofa, and abundant natural light through the floor-to-ceiling windows act as the perfect counterbalance to the predominantly dark wooden cabinetry, raw concrete, and brick wall finishes.

In the kitchen space, the raw concrete pillar and beams, steel hobs, and glass partition are tempered with a tiled feature wall, and light-coloured cabinetry to break the harshness within the small and tight space.

With these thoughtful foils that work in harmony, the resultant space feels more like a peaceful enclave rather than a fortress of solitude.

Stangee by Vivienne

While inspired by brutalist design, designer Vivienne was mindful that the raw plainness of the style might not be ideal for a cosy home environment, leading her to mix and match elements with yet another popular and similar interior design style – the industrial style.

In the main living spaces, industrial design elements like a floor-to-ceiling exposed brick feature TV wall, exposed brick backsplash in the kitchen, and overhanging metal light fixtures with soft and warm incandescent lighting take centrepiece for a warmer and more welcoming vibe.

In contrast, private spaces like the bedroom and bathrooms showcase more elements characteristic of the brutalist style – with heavy use of raw concrete surfaces (like the walls and ceilings), wood, and streamlined designs that are kept plain and simple.       

Yishun by Royston

At first glance, this Yishun project by designer Royston comes the closest to embodying the brutalist design best in a liveable space.

The massive monolith of a concrete feature wall in the living space is the ultimate centrepiece that pays tribute to the brutalism movement, what with its clever use of unpolished and contrasting material, in a massive form and scale that achieves a dramatic effect.

To complement that, the designer also appropriately chose modern brutalist furniture and lighting fixtures like the uniquely designed coffee table and marble island bar/dining table, with raw, unpolished surfaces, and minimal lines that blend perfectly into the space without being intrusive and keeping the space austere and minimalist – as a brutalist home should be.

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