Fake Concrete Wallpaper Creates An Instant Brutalist Look

These trompe l’oeil wallpapers are better for the environment and gentler on your wallet than the real thing. Eat your heart out, Le Corb?

Calling all fans of Brutalism, you’ll rejoice–or recoil–at this new offering: a collection of “concrete-effect” wallpaper patterns that give the term paper architecture another, very literal, meaning.


Offered by U.K.-based company Murals Wallpaper, the collection of 22 designs includes everything from a faux-distressed concrete wall worn with cracks to a wall picturing creeping ivy. Most conspicuous though, are the collection’s series of mural photographs showing detail shots of real-life Brutalist sites, like Edgar Fonseca’s monumental Rio de Janeiro cathedral (shown cropped and close-up in the Brutalist Cathedral Mural Wallpaper) and the concrete vaults of Washington, D.C.’s Harry Weese–designed metro stations (in the appropriately, soberly named Brutalist Metro Station DC Mural Wallpaper).

One of the patterns, the Bare Concrete Wall Wallpaper, features a grid of reinforced concrete panels with dotted depressions, made to achieve “that cool urban-decayed sort of feel,” according to the site’s copy. It’s far from a Tadao Ando masterpiece–but is perhaps an affordable postcard alternative.

The artificial stand-in may send John Ruskin rolling in his grave, but we’re in the 21st century, folks, and there are some obvious benefits to this artifice: For the renter and the budget-friendly buyer, you won’t need to commission a contractor for a custom hand-pour. Priced at $35 per square meter (equivalent to just shy of 11 square feet), each of the designs can be customized to fit a particular space, with a range of paper stock weights.

Like West Elm’s stick-and-peel alternative to reclaimed wood panels, Mural Wallpaper’s collection offers an alternative that’s easier on both your wallet and the environment.

Concrete is one of the most-used products on the planet–second only to water–and its most beneficial properties (durability, strength, and cost-effectiveness) are also what make it less environmentally friendly than building with wood or steel. While standard concrete comprises natural ingredients (water, cement, and aggregate), it pollutes water in the construction process, and cement production is notoriously energy and fossil-fuel intensive.

New studies show that concrete may absorb back that CO2 production over the course of its lifetime, but until the jury’s out, this might help you sleep at night.