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Ideas 05 - how to choose materials and textures

If the wall layout is the skeleton of the space, the surface material is then the skin.

good functionality and free flow are the foundation of the skeleton while the skin adds the aesthetics and style into the space. One shall seek for the balance of the two (structure and outlook) so to achieve the harmony of a living space.

A large black wall is to balance up the red wood cabinet. This leads to a space with classical and calm feeling.

But what if it’s green, instead of black? It easily directs the room with dramatic impacts and great tension.

Stone material is often heavy and hard. The combo of stone and wood results in a style of modesty and simplicity. But when you mix the stone with brass, it turns the space into lively and trendy room.

Hence it is important to consider materials together the others in the same room, but not just individually.

It is also why it is very interesting to learn the matches of different materials so to create a completely different room.

1. Artificial and Natural

First, we’d like to take a look at the pictures below.

Left: Wood + ratten palm weaving + stone + leather are all natural materials.

Right: Metal + lacquer + glass are all artificial materials.

Here are two rooms with natural and artificial materials.

Artificial materials tend to present the modern style whiles the natural materials convert the space into a nostalgic feeling.

Let’s compare one room that is composed of different materials.

The wooden texture of the flooring and cabinets has made the room more natural then the marble and paint texture.

2. Micro-expression

When we talk about wood, there are thousands of types of wood that represent thousands of micro-expressions in its branches.

Cedar wood has light color which is a good tone for relaxing space.

But if it’s with clear wood knots, the space will look rougher and primeval relatively.

Oak wood has wide texture with circular angles. It’s a good choice for a sharp look with power.

American walnut has fine and gentle flow of texture and looks more elegant.

Moreover, same wood with different splicing geometries shows great differences.

First picture above is a subtle way to hide the strong wood features by weakening the wood texture.

Second picture has more natural feelings to it.

The theory of micro-expression not only applies to wood but also to stones, tiles, glass and paints, etc.

For example, glossy metal is a representation of modernism. After the metal is oxidized with scratches, the look tends to be more natural and vintage.

Remember, there are no good or bad textures. And please don’t over use one texture in one room.

Take a look at the picture above, the mud wall creates a room with rough simplicity. But if you over do it, it would be too rough with lack of energy in it.

How to grasp the scale when matching different materials?

3. Matching logic

Imagine yourself enter a room with only one material. You will first feel surprised. Then you will feel very bored.

The homogenization of the space can hardly capture anyone’s attention. Human’s eyes and brain are always seeking for a focus spot for stimulation.

Add a scene at the end, create a focus.

When the space is too plain, add a few contrasts in materials or colors. But be cautious of the proportions you use.

If you’d like to emphasize one certain feature of the space, use similar materials. The whole team of rough textured wooden panel wall, weaving furniture, wooden beams and ceilings serves its role of making the room heavy weighted and primeval.

The second team of glossy tile, wall and steel-structured staircase put the spotlight on the modernism and cleanness.

When one feature is too outstanding, add the opposite material for a contrast and make the space interesting.

Think of it as the tug of war. Each side tries its best to keep the knot in the middle. The tension is the key of a successful space, an eye-catching one.

The glass, stainless steel and natural stones make a balance in the sophistication and wildness.

The material contrast can also be achieved from decorations with paintings, furniture in the space.

For example, the painting like fur with wild texture that reflects how tidy the wall is makes the room full of tension.

It’s not easy to choose the right texture, not to create a beautiful space with proper textures or proportions. but it's fun.

-the end-

About the author:

草三冉 Cao San Ran

is an interior designer and writer, based in Canton area, China. He has been working in design industry for over a decade both in Japan and China. His works are always well-thought-out in layouts and details to ensure the unique and best hierarchy solutions for each client. His great writings also put an in-depth theory into an accurate but simple explanation that made me a big fan of his.

If you read Chinese, scan above QR code to read more articles in Chinese from 草三冉.

I will be happy to translate more of his works to share with English readers.

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