Material Trends for Navigating the Pandemic / #2: Brutalist Beauty

June 22, 2020
Marble wall with abstract design

In this 4-week series, “Material Trends for Navigating the Pandemic,” our team of designers are sharing four new materials and finishes trends brought on by COVID-19, paired with ideas to breakthrough and solutions to bring these possibilities to life. 

Trend #2: Brutalist Beauty

On the other side of the pandemic, there will be a new awareness and appreciation for clean, practical spaces with stoic materials and a contactless slant.

These designs have a straightforward language with a tech-driven flourish. The aim is to convey to consumers that they are in a pristine space that is stylish without sacrificing safety or succumbing to fear.

We will see new takes on anti-microbial and hydrophobic surface finishes applied in new ways to new mediums. We can also look to familiar materials and forms used in new combinations: hard angles and rounded curves co-exist, brushed metal and concrete, and monotone soft earthy color palettes infused with pops of color. Practical feeling spaces will gain additional meaning and appreciation as we pare down on the number of objects we own, and our values have a hint of new-age survivalist. Across all aspects of the space, present beautiful, minimal, sensitive solutions to reduce and even eliminate contact for the consumer.


Look & Feel

How to Activate

1. Breathability is the key focus here. Minimize – pair down items in the space – declutter.

2. Think high-touch, low transfer. The use of anti-microbial/hydrophobic surfaces in high-touch areas is a simple but impactful way to combat the spread of germs.

  • Cambria Quartz is nonporous, which makes it naturally anti-microbial and an excellent solution for countertops.
  • Wilsonart Anti-Microbial Laminate is a cost-conscious solution for countertops and fixturing.

3. Technology and high-tech materials add a layer of ease and safety.

  • PMC Lighting Anti-Microbial Lighting is a subtle but highly effective way to kill germs.
  • MJD Interactive / Valtech A technology partner can help bring to life beautifully branded and personalized omnichannel experiences.

4. Utilize common industrial materials to create unexpected, artful spaces.

  • Build Solar Solar Powered Glass Blocks provide sustainable energy with an industrial look and feel.
  • Panel Piedra Decorative concrete panels are an easier alternative to traditional concrete methods with countless variations.
  • GKD Metal Fabrics Metal Fabrics provide transparency with a utilitarian edge

Next, we’ll explore Trend #3: Transparent Connections (think open, welcoming, and honest) and the solutions that bring this trend to life in-store.

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