Hemswell Antique Centres

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A guide to C20th industrial furniture


What is industrial furniture?

Industrial furniture takes its inspiration from the industrial aesthetic founded in the factories and industrial spaces of the early 20th century, with the term referring to workshop and factory furniture from that period. In the 1960s, as large cities everywhere experienced a lack of affordable housing, derelict industrial warehouses and factories were repurposed into flats and apartments, which suited being furnished authentically. The spacious, open interiors of these buildings meant the lofts and flats created within them were largely open plan, with such original features as exposed piping, brickwork and wooden or concrete floors.

What does industrial furniture look like?

Workshop and factory furniture used by manual workers typically includes pieces manufactured from metal and wood, with mid-century modern industrial furniture including industrial bar stools, rugged and heavy wooden tables and metal pendant ceiling lights. It is functional and durable  and can work well in the modern home, although pieces can be large and imposing.

Who were the most famous mid century furniture designers?

There are many notable designers of 20th century furniture whose work was influenced by architecture and whose pieces incorporate the chrome and leather associated with the industrial movement. Designs from Charles and Ray Eames, Marcel Breuer and, more recently, Philippe Starck all blend seamlessly into an industrial interior.

Not many of us live in converted lofts and apartments, but it is possible to incorporate industrial design elements into any home, with a few carefully chosen signature pieces.

Industrial living room furniture

Leather furniture is typical of the industrial style so choose from the shapes you prefer, whether that is a classic Ercol chair and footstool, or armchairs from the 1920s. Then introduce a 20th century coffee table, perhaps in chrome or glass, or one from the Remploy company, specialists in functional and utilitarian furniture from the middle of the century, and your look will slowly start to come together.

Industrial bedroom furniture

Emphasise the primary materials of wood and metal when furnishing  an industrial bedroom, selecting a metal bedframe and adding industrial shelving units in metal and galvanised steel.

Industrial lighting

Introducing an industrial light fixture into your home will instantly transform your space, with industrial accents working where larger pieces may not. Consider industrial wall lights or pendant lights in the kitchen and perhaps a retro floor lamp in the living room.

Where to buy industrial furniture? 

Scouring vintage shops, car boot sales and flea markets may unearth some hidden gems but authenticity and provenance could be difficult to establish accurately. If you want genuine pieces from the period, looking  for industrial items for sale at reputable antique centres like Hemswell will offer a wide choice of items, allowing you to shop with confidence. With over 400 specialist dealers, selling everything from vintage upcycled and repurposed items to metal accessories from the 20th century you can browse our four buildings at leisure, stopping for a coffee or lunch break in one of our restaurants.

For commercial customers and trader buyers who may be looking to furnish domestic or commercial properties and premises on behalf of their own clients, and who are unable to visit us in person, we can arrange a live virtual shopping tour. Contact us with an idea of the items you are looking for and we can organise an accompanied virtual tour of our buildings, highlighting products of interest. This enables you to view relevant products in a high degree of detail while having the pieces described to you.  

Whether we have the opportunity of meeting you in person or virtually, we look forward to welcoming you to Hemswell Antique Centres soon. 

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