What is International Style?

International Style is an architectural movement characterized by minimalism, functionality, and the use of modern materials.


The International Style is an architectural and design movement that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, focusing on simplicity, formality, and the use of modern construction techniques and materials, such as steel, glass, and concrete. The movement is renowned for its minimalistic approach, eschewing ornamental designs in favor of functional forms and open interior spaces. It seeks to embody the principles of functionality, universality, and timeless aesthetics, making it a significant driving force behind modernist architecture.

Prominent figures of the International Style include architects such as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, who emphasized the importance of a building's functional and societal aspects over decorative elements. Their work advocated for an architecture that could be universally applied, transcending cultural and geographic boundaries. The style is characterized by rectilinear forms, a lack of decoration, and a harmony between the structure's form and its function, achieved through the innovative use of new technologies and materials.

One of the defining features of the International Style is its emphasis on volume over mass, the rejection of traditional ornamentation, and the adoption of a minimalist aesthetic. This focus on simplicity and functionality has had a profound influence not only on architecture but also on interior design, furniture design, and urban planning.


The International Style has been applied in various types of buildings around the world, ranging from skyscrapers and corporate headquarters to private residences and public institutions. Notable examples include the Villa Savoye in France, designed by Le Corbusier, and the Seagram Building in New York City, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. These buildings exemplify the style's principles through their use of open floor plans, flat roofs, and extensive use of glass to allow natural light to penetrate the interior spaces.


  • When did the International Style emerge?

    The International Style emerged in the 1920s and 1930s.

  • Who are some of the key figures associated with the International Style?

    Key figures include Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius.

  • How does the International Style differ from traditional architecture?

    It emphasizes minimalism, functionality, and the use of modern materials over decorative elements, focusing on form following function.

  • Can the International Style be applied to interior design?

    Yes, its principles of simplicity, functionality, and minimalism are also applicable to interior design, influencing furniture design and spatial layout.

  • Is the International Style still relevant today?

    Yes, the International Style remains influential in modern architecture and design, with its principles being adopted and adapted in contemporary projects.

Practical Application

When incorporating the International Style into interior design, focus on creating functional spaces with a minimalist aesthetic. Use modern materials and simple, clean lines, and prioritize natural light and open floor plans. Furniture and decor should be selected for their utility and simplicity, echoing the style's emphasis on functionality over decorative elements.