Imagine a room without any texture, just plain smooth surfaces…it would feel pretty sterile, wouldn’t it?
In fact, textures do wonders in enriching a space, making it feel warmer and more welcoming. Recalling the outdoors, natural textures – the ones preferred in biophilic design – can also benefit human wellbeing.
So let’s explore natural textures in this episode of Biophilic Moodboards!
Natural textures and wellbeing
Even if the reason is yet to be fully explained, people have a general preference for shapes, patterns and textures that recall natural ones.
Studies* have also observed positive effects on wellbeing, from stress reduction to increased concentration.
Additionally, textures stimulate our touch, the most ancestral of our senses and the first one we develop. Tactile stimulations cause a very strong emotional response that goes straight to the brain!
Rich natural textures also create more light-shadows effects. This makes them particularly interesting to watch, stimulating another one of our senses.
Below are some ways to include natural textures in interiors
Walls, floors and ceilings are the biggest surfaces in a home, and dressing them up with a textured finish makes a huge difference.
The options are endless, from wood floors and walls to natural stone cladding.
Some people say that a home without accessories is a home without personality. I kind of agree, because accessories can really give identity to a space.
Vases, frames, baskets…all of these items are occasions to bring natural textures in. They also can help to enhance the connection of the space with the changing seasons or build a stronger local identity.
Plus, accessories are accessible to everyone, renters and owners alike.
3. Imitating nature
The most obvious way of bringing a natural texture in is using the real material indoors. But this is not the only way.
Reproducing a natural texture on other materials is also an option and it’s still beneficial in terms of wellbeing. This is what biophilic design calls natural analogues and it suggest – among the rest – to introduce fractal patterns in interiors and build a stronger local identity.
4. Natural elements
Besides materials, real natural elements also bring textures with them.
For instance: a plant in front of a plain wall will somehow add a natural texture to it, while introducing a vertical garden will literally dress the wall up.
Also, a water feature will add a rich natural texture and it comes with a number of other wellbeing benefits!
Taking the example of a rich wood texture, there exist numerous home design pieces – from wall panels to floor lamps and baskets – that are made out of real birch bark.
These are also sustainable designs, as the bark can be harvested without damaging the inner layer of the trunk, thus not damaging the trees!
For more sustainable design inspiration, you’re welcome to take a look at SforSustainable (opened in a new window/tab), the platform where I curate a selection of sustainable interior design products.
5. Interactive natural textures
By interactive natural textures, I mean things like writing on the sand or caressing the grass. All very relaxing activities that – if brought indoors – could make our spaces more soothing.
Some good examples would be a small zen garden, or a rug that mimics a beautiful expanse of leaves and flowers!
The power of textures lays in their ability to engage deeply with our senses, bringing the mind back to the present moment while restoring a stronger connection with the natural world.
- Joye, Y. (2007). Architectural Lessons From Environmental Psychology: The Case of Biophilic Architecture. (opened in a new window/tab) Review of General Psychology, 11 (4), 305-328.
- The 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design is a framework conceptualized by Terrapin Bright Green