In the last five years, industrial furniture has probably created the most buzz in the design world of anything else. For any of you that might have been living on Planet Mars the last few years and are not familiar with industrial furniture, it is the use of furniture or other items that were originally used in an industrial setting that are now repurposed to fit in our homes or offices. One of the new TV shows, “Picker Sisters” shows two designers taking industrial type items and repurposing them into other things.
Industrial Furniture Is Popular Now
The photos here show a couple of examples. You can see the first one was used for transporting heavy objects around, maybe to carry luggage around a train station. The other was a work bench. Most of these came from France and England. I had one I actually used in my workshop for years. But now people are repurposing these vintage or antique industrial items into usable pieces of furniture in their homes. The heavy duty carts are usually used as an interesting coffee table in homes and offices. The vintage and antique work tables or benches, after being cleaned and polished make wonderful kitchen islands. The heavy cart is actually new and can be purchased here on Amazon.
The design world doesn’t seem to care whether it was originally a piece of vintage industrial furniture or even a brand new, made up piece. They just want that industrial look. It is often the mixture of metal and wood that seems to attract people. Now I know people are importing containers full of industrial furniture that has a vintage or antique look, but is actually just recently made up pieces. I have even seen these at pretty high end antique shows, that before would never allow these new items to be shown. But now everyone just wants the industrial design look, whether antique, vintage, or brand new.
People are also taking vintage metal pieces such as vintage file cabinets and lockers that were originally painted, and then sandblasting them down to the bare metal. This is also a hot trend in the industrial design look. Medical and dental cabinets also look great when done this way. But I have seem old metal stools that comeback to life when they are in their natural bare metal look. Be sure these pieces are clear coated, otherwise they will rust very easily.
Salvaged remains from older homes and buildings fit in well with industrial design. Old windows in a cathedral or other interesting shapes can have the old glass replaced with mirrors to create a unique mirror. Old gears and pulleys can add a design touch to compliment the industrial look.
How Did Industrial Furniture Become Popular?
I’m not quite sure what brought about the popularity of industrial furniture, but I have an educated guess. When downtown industrial areas were being revitalized and loft apartments and condos started springing up in many cities across the country, the exposed beams and architecture of these old buildings just screamed out for that architectural look.
The more unique a piece of industrial furniture is, the more appeal it seems to have. If you are in search of industrial furniture, be sure you know the difference in a vintage industrial cart and a new. Even if you don’t care, a vintage or antique one should be more expensive than a new one. So you don’t want to pay the price of an old one when it is new. Some are very easy to tell the difference and others are much more difficult. Especially if they are using old wood in the construction of a new piece.
Do some research on the net and see what is being produced for you head out to some picking. I have found that people usually love or hate this look. Many times it is mixed in with the mid-century modern look and helps soften it up a bit.
Architectural lighting is another giant trend in industrial design. At big antique shows you can see many different examples, whether it is simple desk lamps from the 50’s and 60’s to old lighting fixtures out of old warehouses. Antique lighting always has been very popular and now the industrial lighting craze has really hit it big. Dealers with industrial lighting usually sell out at shows if their prices are reasonable.
If you ar a dealer, now is the time to jump in on the industrial furniture band wagon while it is still hot. It is still just now being introduced into the southeastern part of the country. I imagine there are still a few years left before this thirst for industrial design and industrial furniture will be quenched.