Combining some of the best aspects of old-world charm with modern minimalism, the industrial interior design style has soared in popularity both abroad, and here in Malta.

For this article, we’re showcasing Stefano Borg’s apartment, a living space which he designed to epitomise all the key characteristics that make up this coveted style that’s easy to spot, but hard to recreate.

In case you’re unfamiliar, the Industrial interior design style:

  • Takes clues from old factories and industrial spaces that have been converted to lofts and other living spaces as the manufacturing industry receeded in importance across the world.
  • Includes defining components such as weathered wood, building systems, exposed brick, industrial lighting fixtures and concrete.

For more information about interior design styles, check out this article.

How long have you been working on this?

Between coordinating with different workers and getting the right materials, it took us around a year before we could move in. We moved in around June – by that time, the apartment was done save for the chairs and the table.

The floor is polished concrete, we know it’s durable, but is it easy to clean? 

Yes, it is actually extremely easy to clean and also offers more benefit than normal tiled flooring. Concrete remains very cool in Summer, which helps keep the whole place cooler. It’s also a great option for homeowner’s who are fans of easy hygiene – unlike alternatives, concrete doesn’t require a lot of joint space.

What about the costs?

I’d say concrete will cost you around the same as getting tiled flooring would. It is very cost efficient when compared to marble, stone tile, solid qood, or quality carpets, especially when you consider that concrete is very difficult to damage and nearly impossible to chip or scratch.

Have you always had a passion for design – do you have experience with designing spaces, or was this a ‘one time gig’?

I always enjoyed design, but I am not a designer. I actually work as an equipment and furniture importer – a job I enjoy. At the same time, this project allowed me to reconnect with the world of design and transformation. There’s an undeniable thrill to defining how a space looks and feels like.

That said, if you were to ask me to design your interiors in a traditional or baroque style, I will run away from you. 

The mint, yellows, and houndstooth pattern are a striking combination against the neutrals. Were they always part of the plan?

I went for a strong industrial vibe with the furniture and overall design, and that creates an ambience that’s very cold and industrial. Introducing warm colours from soft furnishings was my solution to injecting warmth into an otherwise austere space.

How was this process like for you?

My little quest was to create a space that really makes me better – mentally and physically. I picked a style that I knew I always responded positively to, and then it really was a question of dedicating my energies to making it happen as authentically as possible. 

Did you get any kind of help from design-inclined friends? Advice on colours, materials, or placement?

I mainly looked at books, pinterest boards, magazines, and online articles. With friends, I certainly had some conversations, but they’d mostly just let me do the talking and nod along. 

What part of the renovation cost you the most coins?

The exposed air duct, vent, and pipes were definitely major expenses.

Was it hard to make the exposed ductwork happen? 

Yes it was very hard to find a local supplier to have this done, mainly because it is not something which is usually done residentially but more commercially.

Overall, what would you say was the biggest challenge?

I did not want to cut corners or skip ahead. Between chasing materials, finding suppliers who won’t bleed your bank dry, and communicating with workers who haven’t done this before, it all becomes a game of patience. Bringing all the right ingredients together takes a lot of time.

Speaking of industrial-themed places. I haven’t seen many Maltese homeowners get into this level of detail. What was the hardest appliance, element, or unit to acquire?

The Black Taps were horrifyingly hard to find.

Did you employ local workers and suppliers?

I got a local welder for the ironwork you see in the kitchen. He had only experience with metal work for garages before, so this was very new to him, but we communicated well and I am happy with the result.

Do you like to experience with DIY (do-it-yourself) when it comes to furniture upcycling?

The coffee table you’re taking a photo of is actually just a wooden box. It initially served as a container for some weights I had imported in. Next, I’ll be attaching wheels to the bottom so we can move it around. My idea is to also add two black hinges on the sides, drill two holes in and use a rope to open it up for storage. 

Where did you get the lights from? (in reference to the lights above the dining table)

From the get-go, I had a very specific idea for the dining area’s lighting fixture. My original intention was to get it from a local store, but I couldn’t find anything that’s close enough to this so I ordered it online. Since then, the industrial style has ballooned in popularity in Malta, so local suppliers are offering a lot more options and it’s not too hard to find. Wish this was the case when I was looking around, I had to get it shipped from China – which meant a ridiculously long waiting time.

Our team at House Malta is always on the look-out for spaces, places, and things that are being built up, torn down, modernised, restored, or re-purposed – be it by a big team or a one-man(or woman)-army.

DO YOU HAVE A STORY, A PERSON, OR A PLACE IN MIND?

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Lee