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Industrial furniture décor, the Spoutnik brassed lamp

Industrial design: well anchored in the workplace and in our streets

Article published on 11/07/2012

Industrial design for a long time figured prominently in industrial workshops and the parks and gardens of major cities.

Industrial furniture decor is composed of factory style furniture, a style of furniture which has taken its inspiration from the workshops of bygone days. Currently very much in vogue, this type of retro furniture brings elegance and a touch of industrial furniture in a vintage style to every interior.

Industrial furniture décor: born of steel and metal

The origins of workshop furniture

Towards the end of the 19th century, manufacturers in the transportation and arms sectors were the largest consumers of metal. However, right from the start of the industrial revolution, change was in the air. More and more industries switched to steel and other types of metal, as these materials were much in demand due to their great strength. Over the years, metal furniture became more and more common and gained the attention of the wider public.

Many designers love working with metal, putting it to unusual uses as works of art and designer furniture. Steel rapidly became a symbol of the modern age. It is the key material used in the creation of industrial furniture décors and factory furniture.

The aesthetic appeal of metal furniture

The general public was very quickly won over by this type of furniture, which at the time, was extremely innovative. The combined robustness and aesthetic appeal of the designer chest of drawers and the industrial sideboard helped cement the success of these industrial style furniture items.

It was immediately clear that this material had multiple advantages; whether lacquered, chrome-plated or nickel-plated, it helps makes factory style furniture look great.

In the space of just a few years, steel manufacturers and designers were able to experiment with and push this metal to its limits, opening up new possibilities.

The rise of industrial furniture

With the growth in both consumer demand for and the output of industrial style furniture, designers and antiques dealers began to track down steel factory furniture pieces.

Manufacturers worked hard to create revolutionary new techniques for working metal to be able to offer designers top-quality finishes. For example, the German manufacturer Mannesmann created seamless steel tubes thanks to the cold-drawn method.

Likewise, Thonet, which generally specialized in wooden furniture, embarked upon the production of designer metal furniture.

Factory furniture, icons of the retro look

Wood and steel furniture in all their diversity

At this precise moment in time, factory furniture was a symbol of modernity and reflected the values of this period: the idea of progress, innovation and originality. Designers jumped at the opportunities offered by these new metal-working techniques, giving factory furniture pieces a new lease of life: wood and metal tables, vintage chairs, a metal storage cabinet... furniture took on innovative shapes and colours, giving rise to a new style, which became very popular indeed, the retro look.

The development of metal, the industrial furniture décor material par excellence

The metal-manufacturing sector made good use of the resources at its disposal. The Office technique for steel use (a kind of marketing board for the steel industry), was founded by industry professionals who wished to encourage the more widespread use of steel in France.

This body regularly worked with modern artists who helped created the embryonic factory furniture movement and organized design competitions in the 1930s which focused on working with steel.

Initially a product of the transportation and arms industries, steel became very much an everyday material. For instance, the first steel cans appeared in 1935, and aerosols a few years later.

In the industrial décor sphere, vintage furniture articles were the main beneficiaries of these developments. During the course of the 20th century, such furniture became much more diverse thanks to numerous technological advances and improvements such as the development of stainless steel sheet metal. Nowadays, industrial furniture design is appreciated for the rugged charm of steel, which is a great addition to any interior. The factory style is seen in all kinds of furniture, from the factory style table to club sofas and armchairs and light fittings. Its retro vibe enables it to complement all styles.

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