The name Brutalism comes from the French term beton brut, which literally means “rough concrete”. Le Corbusier is known as the creator of Brutalism, born of his love for the simple material, which enabled him to build incredible shapes, inspired by nature. Even though it found its name in the 20th century, examples of Brutalism exist from antiquity – the Pantheon is an exquisite structure that certainly embodies the classic philosophies of Brutalism.
Brutalism developed from economic need after WW II. Concrete was cheap and abundant, but the tie to nature, with its organic texture, raw, unrefined, earthy and unpretentious brings this trend back around, again and again.
There is a contrast to the hard stone and the fluid shapes it can create. Casting relief in concrete is a recent obsession of mine. Concrete is surprisingly malleable, flexible, expressive and has a soulfulness. I also love to see the contrast of living, green nature growing over the rough stone of city landscapes.
It has a flip side too. Cold, heartless and man-made, symbolic of man’s conquering and destruction of nature...
The below image of the Olivetti showroom in New York, designed by Italian Costantino Nivola is a current inspiration. I’m working with a well known and uber talented textile designer to create a fabric inspired by this incredible wall. Nivola and Le Corbusier developed a unique friendship in NYC after the war. They became a huge influence on each other and Nivola introduced Corbusier to his technique of developing bas relief.
The Salk Institute by Louis Khan is a Brutalist utopia. Known as the most famous building in California, the design is built around the patterns of natural light and influences the way the scientists interact with each other. It mimics nature in its epic perfection.
Another gorgeous use of concrete in the below walls, with cubbies carved in natural, imperfect forms, discovered through Michael Kramer and this unknown image of kitchen storage walls are just stunning. Now all I need is a concrete house…