International Style. Explore creative design ideas, tips and inspirations for this classic architectural design style.          

After WW1 architecture and design in Europe sought to eliminate the seeming blind alley of the Art Nouveau. Artists and designers found interest in the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and became eager to expand his influence into broader acceptance. So closely the did international designers, particularly architects, agreed on the fundamental principles of this new style, the practice would come to be known as the International Style.

polished venetian plaster

Lithos Venetian Plaster

Finishing Venetian Plaster with natural polished marble effect

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Lithos is the contemporary version of the famous ancient Stucco Veneziano. It is a beautiful and highly refined decorative finish for hotels, offices, shops, exhibition halls, living rooms, etc. Ideal for all types of interior surfaces such as cement renders, Gypsum plasters, prefabricated panels wood and its by-products, as long as sufficiently smooth. With the range of colours and the applicator’s capacity and inspiration, it is possible to attain a variety of designs and chromatic effects. The resulting coating, in addition to being highly attractive, is abrasion resistant and washable.

Spread rate: 35 to 45 sq. ft. per quart.

0.8 - 1.0 kg/m² (for a recommended dry film thickness of 1,0 mm)

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The foundations of this style can be traced to the Bauhaus, an architectural school founded by Walter Gropius in 1918. The style arose from the need to create decent housing for the post-WWI German worker, and to address the needs of a growing technological and mechanized world. Breaking from the Arts and Crafts movement, Bauhaus embraced technology, new materials and the mass production of furnishings and fixtures.

In the form of the International Style, the Bauhaus' influence eventually extended around the world. The followers of the new style created classical forms without extraneous ornament. Access to new building technologies like reinforced concrete, and steel framework for buildings designers sought a whole new approach to what is known as the plan, or the layout of the interiors of buildings. The enormous strength of these new materials opens new worlds for designers that were unheard of in building before.

Le Corbusier, a Swiss architect (1887-1965), became a leader in this style, establishing new interiors with what became known as the ‘open plan’, where load bearing walls became virtually extinct, allowing interior spaces to be arranged and rearranged with moveable partitions or opened wide for a completely ‘open plan’. Glass wall often were used creating ambiguous interior spaces. “In” and “out” became relative. And the early examples of International Style show a close relationship to Cubist Art, just as in the cubist ideals of “front” and “back” become ambiguous.

Naturally, these open floor plans and use of industrial materials lay the foundations to what became known as the Modern Style.


International Style

Decorative ornamental plaster medallions and roses
Architectural details and ornamentation!

Ceiling medallions, cornices and moldings. Authentic Period and Historic Home architectural ornamentation. All crafted in genuine plaster. For commercial and residential environments.

more ornamental plaster medallions.

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Painted Stripes

Smart, bold and uplifting, striped walls can quickly transform a modest room into an exciting environment. From elegant and formal to casual and comfortable, the painted stripe offers a variety of design solutions and can be quickly adapted to your interior style. Because of the linear quality of this application rooms tend to feel larger. It works well in entrance foyers, living rooms, dining rooms and bath areas.


Elements of International Style

Today, the ultra-modern look still adheres to the original Bauhaus ideal of functionalism, but its austere building blocks can be leavened with earthy or colorful accents. Forms are simple and modular, ornament minimal but not prohibited. As with the original Bauhaus style, furnishings should be attractive, industrially produced, and high-quality.

Feature tutorial.

The Parchment colorwash. Creating the impression of aged walls, the Parchment finish evokes a feeling of history and old world charm. The color density varies over the finished surface and creates appearances of lightly mottled parchment. A soft and airy finish, the Parchment glaze is an ideal way to create mood and character in any room. I’ve found it to be an ideal solution for finishing irregular or textured wall surfaces.

parchment color wash paint finish

International Style Inspirations


Walls are treated as background incorporating sparse tones of black, white, brown, gray, beige, and chrome. Bursts of color are used as accent and accessories, primary colors often adding the splash of red, yellow or blue that livens the austere modern interior.


Walls are simple, with out moldings or embellishment; painted white or neutral tones. The use of glass as walls becomes an important innovation in Modern Style, largely due to the advent of new material use, like steel, in construction. Glass bricks are installed, often in combination with raw concrete - for that Le Corbusier touch. Contemporary art, such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop art add life and organic interest to the clean angularity of modern design.


Paneling was often painted in geometric shapes. Walls featured lavish floral or figural carvings or paintings, gilding, faux marble or tortoiseshell. Moldings and cornices, however, were plain. Tapestries -- painted fabric, gilded or tooled leather, velvet, damask -- go far in creating this style.


Natural elements become the mainstay. Wood, stone, brick, and cork compliment the open, airiness of modern interiors, adding just the right amount of natural organics to compliment the concrete and glass structure. Abstract patterned rugs, such as kilim rugs, help soften the linearity and add character to the modern interior.


Plain white curtains or Venetian blinds allow light to enter the interior without detracting from the open, uncluttered spaces. Or for a daringly modern look, no window coverings at all!


This is the place for color and organic forms and textures. Modern art, particularly in Mondrian-style primary colors, and geometric, black and white. Throw pillows can be exiting influences, covered in primary colors or interesting fabric patterns. Curved glass ashtrays, translucent or colored art glass, and mobiles continue the contemporary feel by implying light and airiness. Natural objects and materials like twig arrangements, bamboo, sisal or coir balance industrial design. Period style can also be used for accessories: Art Deco style for the thirties; kitsch for the fifties; Pop Art for the sixties.

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