Furnishing a Brutalist-Inspired Space: Insights from Designer Boldizar Senteski

By Boldizar Senteski

I have always been fascinated by the convergence of old and new architecture in Budapest, the city where I grew up. Little did I know at the time how deeply this rich history would influence my work and design approach, particularly in relation to Soviet-era Brutalist buildings.

Decorating Brutalist spaces, like the stunning three-bedroom villa in Son Vida near Palma de Mallorca currently on the market for €7.3mn, can pose unique challenges. As a designer, I offer some tips for styling the villa’s hall, using a variety of modern collectible pieces to integrate striking design elements while preserving a sense of comfort and harmony.

Expose raw materials

When envisioning Brutalism, we often imagine rough concrete surfaces, robust forms, and exposed structures. An excellent example of this aesthetic is seen in Martin Laforet’s creation, the console, where a concrete mold is used to cast bronze, with the mold then serving as a plinth for the bronze form. You can incorporate this aesthetic into your interior or create an intriguing dialogue with exposed concrete walls, as is the case with this Mallorca space.

Decorate with functional pieces

I’m intrigued by the connection between Brutalism and functionality. To explore this, consider introducing decorative elements that also serve a practical purpose. For example, the hammered brass wall sconce by Mexican artist Manu Banó can function as both an artwork and a light source, adding beautiful ambient lighting to illuminate the hall.

Bring nature in

Add natural counterpoints to austere spaces in Brutalist buildings. The coffee table by Chilean artist Sebastian Errazuriz, which combines actual and handmade branches, evokes a sense of nature reclaiming a long-abandoned place, adding warmth and organic beauty.

Look for quality in the details

Pay close attention to small details, quality, and craftsmanship when selecting furniture for your space. Modern interpretations of Brutalism can be bold and overt, but the key lies in subtle features. Take, for instance, the bench by Stéphane Parmentier, which may appear to be constructed from concrete at first glance due to its puritan monolithic form. Upon closer inspection, you’ll discover it is covered in soft, tactile suede leather, striking a harmonious blend of rugged beauty and luxury. This bench would be an ideal addition to the Mallorcan villa’s hall, offering a quiet place to enjoy the surroundings.

Find an iconic centrepiece

Don’t shy away from making a statement. While it’s important to balance Brutalist elements and maintain comfort and harmony, adding a striking centrepiece that grabs attention will give the interior an edge. One extraordinary piece is Gomli by Israeli designer Ron Arad, which is both iconic and one-of-a-kind—something I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

Photography: Jose Luis Zarauz/John Taylor Palma de Mallorca; Carpenter Workshop Gallery; Sebastian Errazuriz Studio; Galerie Philla; StudioTwentySeven; Ron Arad and Associates


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