Opposite Aesthetic: Industrial

My upcycling project has an environmental aesthetic with lots of natural elements and depictions of what the future environment could look like. It includes lots of nature and renewable energy sources. When thinking of an opposite of this aesthetic, I thought of the industrial aesthetic. This is because industrial aesthetics were inspired by factories and warehouses that have traditionally been a large source of pollution and climate change. Below is an example of a picture that greatly influenced the industrial aesthetic by Schlitz Brewery (1):

Schlitz Brewery (1)

This shows an old time industrial town with the smoke coming from the factories. The factory look influenced the industrial aesthetic greatly. Using the above inspiration, industrial aesthetics are known for “taking something old, commercial, vintage, or recycled and giving it a second lease on life, without stripping it of its original character” (Kocharian, 2). The aesthetic is typically created from dark colors and paired with a lot of metal like iron and steel. Industrial aesthetics typically add texture by using brick and concrete. It is also known to have a modern finish with accent vintage elements. An example of this aesthetic is seen below by HDG Architecture (3).

HDG Architecture (3)

In this example, there are steel beams and stairs, metal chairs, and exposed piping. There are lots of dark colors used with accents of wood for the bar table. The design also incorporates different textures with concrete support columns and a white tiled floor. 

Taking inspiration from the above pictures, I could recreate my upcycling project with a more industrial aesthetic. For my current upcycling project, I’m using cardboard, black markers, a box cutter, and cyanotype prints. To make my project fit into the industrial aesthetic, I could redraw my art piece to be a factory or warehouse and use the corrugations of the cardboard to create smoke coming out from the smokestacks of the factory. I could use the cyanotypes to create pieces of flowers that are caught in the smoke. I would cut out cyanotype strips and curl them to give the flowers more dimension. The following is a sketch I made of what my potential project could look like:

Upcycling industrial aesthetic idea

I could also use a different colored marker to add in a brick texture to the outside of the building and then color the smoke stack black to show the use of steel. This would be contrasting to my environmental aesthetic upcycling project that features wind turbines and lots of surrounding plants that are integrated into the town.


  1. Schlitz Brewery, 1886, https://emke.uwm.edu/entry/industrial-landscapes/
  2. Kocharian, Anna. “Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Industrial Style”. Apartment Therapy, Aug. 2020, https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/industrial-style-36771433 
  3. HDG Architecture, 2018, https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/collections/restaurants-industrial-aesthetic
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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Kyra! I’m super excited about your progress for the Upcycle project. I also was interested to read about what you consider to be the “opposite” aesthetic to environmental, which is industrial. I actually think this could be a really cool aesthetic to explore, but I feel that for this project, leaning more toward environmental is easier with our access to materials. I wonder – does exploring this aesthetic make you want to change anything about your finished product? I’m excited to see your future project!

  • Hi Kyra, I really enjoyed your post! I found the industrialism aesthetic to be a very good contrast to your original environmental aesthetic. I also found your pictures to be great examples of the new aesthetic and I liked your tie back to your current project. In your current upcycling project how will you balance your use of black marker vs. layers of cardboard to introduce detail into it?


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