The New Outdoor Design Trend? Believe It or Not: Brutalism
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The New Outdoor Design Trend? Believe It or Not: Brutalism

What’s behind the revival—and how to pull it off without turning your backyard retreat into a totalitarian bunker.

Fri, Jul 22, 2022Grey Clock 2 min

CALL IT FLINTSTONES CHIC: On balconies and in backyards, hulking stone chairs and chunky concrete tables are making their weighty presence known. The look, though not actually prehistoric, is one with a past. Brutalism, the modern-design movement more typically associated with no-frills 1960s and 1970s public buildings than patio furniture, has long been an aesthetic critics love to hate. So why, after years of trim minimalism, are designers embracing the monolithic look for outdoors?

“People want unusual, sculptural pieces that have an edge and patina,” explained New York designer Amy Lau. Brutalist designs tick those boxes. Cameos in high-profile Instagram feeds like Gwyneth Paltrow’s haven’t hurt, either: Recent snaps of the lifestyle guru’s new Montecito home show what appear to be vintage “pod chairs” by Brutalist designer Willy Guhl looming trendily around an equally chunky fire pit. (Snag your own pair on 1stDibs for a rather brutal $21,293)

The post-apocalyptic style, named for the French term, “béton brut” (meaning “raw concrete”), might seem at odds with gentle plant forms, but fans say that juxtaposition is exactly what makes it work. “[Outdoors] the bold, elemental shapes of Brutalist furniture create a sense of dynamic contrast and edge,” said Kelly Wearstler, a Los Angeles designer whose work is heavily influenced by Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, midcentury masters who ushered in the Brutalist movement.

Take for example, the Boletto Chair from Cassius Castings, a Santa Monica, Calif., studio specializing in made-to-order concrete pieces. With its angular shape, drab colour and textureless surface, it sets off verdant green spaces with satisfyingly bratty dissonance. A Corten steel chiminea from Terrain also upends gentility with a straight-from-the-steel-mill look—though its saffron patina and columnar, tree-trunk shape evoke more natural forms.

Brutalist patio furniture can also be just plain practical. As Ms. Lau explained, concrete—one of Brutalism’s signature mediums—does particularly well outdoors. “It’s sturdy, and you don’t have to cover it for winter.”

For those worried Brutalist furniture will make their terrace look more like a totalitarian bunker than a posh retreat, Gaithersburg, Md., designer Shoshanna Shapiro points out that many new designs—like Boxhill’s lightweight and surprisingly elegant swooping Lucio loungers—are more approachable than their 1960s-era counterparts. Another way to temper the severity of Brutalist elements: Use them sparingly, or combine them with more delicate wood or rattan pieces.

“We’re seeing more sophisticated versions with slimmer, gentler curves and richer colours,” Ms. Shapiro explained. One of her favourite examples of this new iteration is the monumental, modular Spolia planter from Opiary. “It blends biophilic design and Brutalism in a modern, minimalist way.”

Neo-Brutalist designer James De Wulf also marries the organic and the industrial with his new bronze and concrete Exo dining table. While he’s best known for his hulking half-ton pieces, the craftsman’s recent work skews subtler. “I’m letting the shapes be organic rather than following the rigidity of circles and straight lines,” he explained.

“Some clients shy away from [Brutalist pieces] thinking they’ll be cold and uncomfortable,” said Seattle designer Anna Popov, who says she’s recently been crushing on a sensuous line of sealed concrete furniture from Sunpan. “But the truth is that it’s form, not material, that determines comfort,” she said. “A well-designed chair, in any material, can be the most comfortable one you’ve ever sat in.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 21, 2022


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By Robyn Willis
Fri, Aug 5, 2022 2 min

When people talk about making a seachange, chances are this is the kind of property on the NSW South Coast that they have in mind.

Open for inspection for the first time this Saturday, 24 Point Street Bulli offers rare absolute beachfront, with never-to-be-built-out north facing views of the ocean. Located on the tip of Sandon Point, this two-storey property is a surfer’s dream with one of Australia’s most iconic surf breaks just beyond the back wall.

On the lower floor at street level, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms, including a family bathroom and an ensuite in the master suite. A fourth bedroom is on the upper floor, along with the main living area, and is serviced by its own bathroom. 

While this would make a spectacular holiday home, it is well equipped for day-to-day living, with a spacious gourmet kitchen and butler’s pantry set into the articulated open plan living area on the first floor. A separate media room to the street side of the property on this level provides additional living space. 

Every aspect of this property has been considered to take in the light and views, with high ceilings internally and spacious, north facing decks on both levels to take in views of rolling waves. If the pull of the ocean is irresistible, it’s just a 100m walk to feel the sand between your toes.

The house is complemented by a Mediterranean, coastal-style garden, while the garage has room for a workshop and two car spaces.

An easy walk to Bulli village, the property is a 20 minute drive from the major hub of Wollongong and just over an hour to Sydney.


Open: Saturday August 6 2pm-3pm Auction: Saturday September 3 Price guide: N/A but expected to exceed $5.3m paid in March for 1 Alroy Street 

Contact: McGrath Thirroul – Vanessa Denison-Pender, 0488 443 174