Flickr Widget

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Paul Evans and Brutalism

The term “Brutalism” was coined by architects Alison and Peter Smithson in 1953 and made popular by British architectural critic Reyner Banham when he used it in the title of his 1966 book, The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic?. It sprang from a French term used by Le Corbusier to describe the raw concrete (“béton brut”) with which he worked and which was to become the material most frequently used in stark, blocky Brutalist architecture from the 1950s through the 1970s.

That same blocky starkness, often with a patchwork appearance, is exempliefied in Brutalist furnishings, whether they are made of wood or metal. Paul Evans (1931-1987) is probably the best known designer of Brutalist furniture, creating roughly sculpted pieces out of wood and metal. While some of his pieces are highly decorated, it tends to be rather raw and harsh in appearance, not at all sleek or sinuous like much mid-century design.

Although Brutalism has had severe critics, it is enjoying somewhat of a comeback among young loft-dwellers who appreciate its industrial aesthetic and understand its honest, intellectual approach to function over form.

Faceted credenza

Argente low cabinets

Bronze sculpted chairs

Metal sculpted credenza


Cocktail table


  1. DANA! I love the credenza! Glam with a punch. But those chairs... that looks like skin! Is it terrible that it makes me think of Silence of the Lambs... talk about brutalism! hahaha <3

  2. @Gina: Yeah, skin chairs would be about as brutal as you can get! Ewww. All I can think about is how cumbersome they would be. I can look at Brutalist pieces and appreciate them as art, but I'm not sure I'd want to decorate with them in my own home...a little too heavy (visually as well as physically)and over-the-top for me...but definitely worth noting.

  3. Most brutal pieces are just too edgy for my taste. I too appreciate the vision behind the design, but, give me clean lines anytime. I do love the credenza, but, wouldn't want to dust it.

  4. @Krazy4Mod: Yep, I'm with you...about the look and the dusting. I'm at the age where clean lines and an absence of tchotchkes appeals not only to my sense of design, but to my utter laziness as well. :)