Let’s face it – you know how irresistible it is for little ones to lay their hands on virtually anything that comes their way. As antisocial as popping car keys into your mouth might be, this compelling urge to explore through touch is purely natural. Indeed, we adults share a similar curiosity about the sensation of touch and delight in various textures, albeit with a slightly higher degree of social etiquette. This multi-sensory experience forms the basis of why texture plays a pivotal role in interior design.
A Deep Dive into the Science of Touch and Texture
Our innate ability to discern even the smallest textural variances through touch is indeed mind-boggling. In a report cited by National Geographic, it was revealed that:
“Humans can perceive minute changes in surfaces—down to a microscopic 13 nanometers, about the breadth of a human hair.”
Despite this, much of our understanding of touch’s significance is instinctual and observational. We inherently understand that a comforting touch or a warm hug elicits feelings of joy. Moreover, the tactile sensation of certain materials can evoke a sense of pleasure. In today’s digital age of touch screens and swipes, there is a growing interest in understanding the scientific ramifications of touch.
Studies have shown that even the mere sight of diverse textures can stimulate emotional responses. Research conducted by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health found a correlation between our emotional states and the perception of dynamic textures such as flowing water.
The same research underpinned human affinity for texture in static surfaces, particularly in textiles, wallpapers, etc. It suggested that the human visual system is “optimised for the perception of natural images.” It also underscored that the emotional response intensifies when other elements like sound are incorporated, and colour plays an integral role — all key components in the design process.
Texture Comes Alive in the Home Setting
Touching a texture is where the magic truly lies. Think about the sensation of a cool, smooth marble countertop, polished wood, natural stone sinks, or silk wallpapers — they all inspire us to engage with our environment.
For many, the allure of antique furniture or traditional craftsmanship stems not just from their aesthetic appeal but also from the added dimension of tactile experiences they offer. Natural textures seem to captivate us the most, possibly because they appeal to our primal urge to connect with nature.
Embracing Sensory Exploration in Design
In a recent project of ours, we had the privilege of diving deep into the exploration of textures. The project involved a luxury London apartment located in a former jam factory, owned by a family residing in both the UK and San Francisco. The owner’s fondness for the original brickwork became the cornerstone of our design approach.
The end result was a symphony of senses, incorporating a red alpaca sofa, sliding timber doors salvaged from the original building, and a kitchen with three diverse oak finishes. Coupled with strategic lighting, these elements created a depth and richness in the kitchen area, resulting in an irresistibly seductive space.
Similarly, our new studio design is a testament to the power of textures, featuring a river-washed oak table and Corten metal accents around the doors that evoke an aura of intrigue. With a nod to industrial London, the space transports you into a realm of luxury and texture.
Taking Control of Your Personal Space
The way we feel in our homes is of paramount importance. While functionality is crucial, the emotional impact of our surroundings should never be underestimated. When we have the chance to influence this, it’s a tremendous privilege – one to be explored, played with, and cherished for years.