Nature is my ultimate inspiration and this journal article is a thought-piece on all the reasons to use natural organic materials. In taking a sustainable approach to design, using renewable, natural materials is not only an aesthetic choice, but an environmentally conscious one. But it’s also a way of bringing both nature and memories into the home/space…

Ever since I was a young girl, I have been beguiled by the beauty found in nature and in nature’s own artistry. My bedroom was filled with collections of precious stones, shells, pine cones, old horse shoes, feathers, pebbles or small intriguing pieces of wood I had collected. So, in my professional, grown up guise, I remain a zealous advocate of natural materials!

Being surrounded by nature has a calming effect. Using naturally beautiful materials always creates a tranquil and peaceful space. What’s more, it produces a timeless look which is not dictated by fashion or trends.

That’s because natural materials, such as aged stone and wood, have a beauty all of their own. Each piece has its own unique, organic, earthy quality. The markings, textures and colours are totally individual. I particularly love watching the way that colours change depending on the lighting source or the natural light at different times of day.

With my practical sensibilities at the fore, it also makes a lot of sense to use natural rugged, rustic materials. They are often bulletproof, child-proof, dog-proof and party-proof! In fact, not only are natural materials durable, they’re also environmentally-friendly and they improve the microclimate of indoor spaces. They even act as grounding elements and introduce a sense of serenity into your space.

Natural materials for minimalism

A key aspect of designing with natural materials is the effect a well-designed space has on the psychological wellbeing of the occupant. Minimum use of materials can achieve maximum results. This is such a health-giving form of minimalism.

I think modern contemporary homes are all about the use of natural repetitive materials, maintaining a minimal colour palette with natural streamlined materials and clean lines. I have certainly found that a simple palette of materials makes for the best compositions. Natural materials add another layer of detail that is not possible to replicate from synthetic counterparts, they create rhythm and definition.

That’s why natural materials always sit at the core of my designs. They are the inspiration for the soulful, artful, healthful, earthy interiors that I seek to create. I care deeply about spaces and the way in which people experience them. I hope to create positive emotional responses, encourage relaxation and spark thought.

Nature and the Earth Era

We are now in the ‘Earth Era’. It’s vital that we address the issues of environmental impact, sustainability and the global spread of pollution of our land and oceans because of manmade materials.

It has become even more apparent that bringing nature into our built environments is an essential design aesthetic, particularly as there is now a growing awareness of the dwindling of Earth’s natural resources. Consumers have become increasingly aware of the quality of products that they use.

Natural materials are inherently more eco-friendly than their artificial counterparts. And besides being better for the environment, these materials are also better for human health.

Natural style and surroundings

Natural materials will never go out of fashion, they are amazing neutrals and provide an instant feeling of calming luxury to a space. Wood, terracotta, marble, bamboo, rattan, metals and even concrete all come in neutral colours that will enhance any scheme.

Every design should relate to the colours, textures and materials of its local. This links directly to my belief that a space should be deserving of its environment; a home or workspace at peace with its surroundings will always be superior to one that is not.

Natural, biophilic appeal

One of the main reasons we are so drawn to nature is our innate connection to the outdoors and to natural elements. In design terms, this is known as Biophilia. Humans love the organic and natural appeal of elements that make them feel calm and are actively drawn to such spaces that incorporate these elements.

In my use of natural materials, I want clients to feel close to nature, to relate their surroundings and become aware to their environment and the environment. Nature’s serenity provides its own natural healing reward.

In taking a biophilic approach to materials, it’s important that natural materials are as minimally processed as possible and that they’re locally sourced. This then creates a strong connection to the geographic location, grounding the elements.

Purity, purpose and longevity

It’s true that natural materials are often more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but I would say that the quality of natural materials tends to be much better. This then translates into longevity.

In taking a Slow Design approach, I love to use natural materials to create and implement designs that last. By using beautiful natural materials that have a timeless appeal, my schemes demonstrate simplicity of purpose, design and manufacture.

Which natural materials deliver purity, purpose and longevity?

Here are some of my favourite natural materials that deliver on purity, purpose and longevity:

Responsibly sourced wood is a beautiful, natural, renewable material. Often, I will combine different wood finishes, inviting touch and feel.

I am particularly drawn to steel, especially in its raw form and it is readily available. Due to the fact it’s a strong and versatile material, it is possible to achieve precision detail with it.

Stone is perhaps the oldest construction material. There are many fascinating types of natural stone such as limestone, granite and marble with many variations on colour and texture. Stone is characterised by its high durability as well as resistance to water and heat. The raw beauty of stone looks amazing in any space.

Brick is a universal and timeless material, baked from clay, a natural material, it goes well with almost any style.

Textiles can add organic materials to the space, Wool, cotton and linen are all natural fibres that add a sense of warmth.

House plants
Bringing nature inside, plants are an organic way in which to add colour to a space and harmonise it and they improve the room by filtering the air.

Rattan and Wicker
The transformation of pliable soft materials into something that is strong and enduring, I love the tactility of natural woven materials.

This is often overlooked as a natural material but it has many uses in interior design, from glass doors to decorative accessories.

Nature is best…

You don’t have to take my word for it though. Here are some renowned individuals to add weight to the argument for all things natural:

‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’ 
Leonardo da Vinci

‘Bring out the nature of the materials. Let their nature intimately into your scheme.’
Frank Lloyd Wright

‘Some people only see the outside, the bark, branches and leaves. I look on the inside of the tree to see the contours, the lines, the form and textures, the individuality of each tree’
Bryan Nash Gill

‘For it is the perceptive observation of the owner that all of nature’s materials have their own language. If you listen carefully to what they tell you and respect this you will not fail to create harmonious surroundings.’
Axel Vervoordt