Texture is experienced through touch, and for surfaces, we are not ‘touching’; we believe it is not essential; this is why, paradoxically, most research combining design and psychology focuses on color and rarely on texture. But, if we stop and think about it, we realize that even before we physically touch anything, we know how it will feel on our hands or skin. Another significant textural aspect is lines or geometry, covered in the first chapter of design lessons. Different materials with varying textures might produce crisp, sharp, or curved lines. 

What role do Textures play?

The visual texture that our eyes perceive can stimulate significant responses. A smooth texture can convey a sense of peace, whereas an irregular geometric pattern might feel more dynamic in activity. The texture is crucial for the items and furnishings we use in our interior design, but it also has a role in architecture – in different spaces and enclosing those spaces. It seems easy to say and understand the implication of texture and its correct use in theory, but the impact is so subtle that we often fail to notice it and experience the space. 

We use our sense of touch to judge how we feel about a material and its texture; thus, metal can feel chilly, and a soft blanket can feel warm and comfy. Understanding how light interacts with textured surfaces adds another degree of research and depth to design. Shiny textures, such as marble tiles, silk, or silver gold metals, reflect light and make a space appear more bright and clean. In contrast, rustic and natural textures, such as wood, stone, and fuzzy materials, create warmer and inviting spaces.

How do textures change the emotions in a space? - Sheet1
Warm rug adding a comfortable feel to the living area_©lelia_milaya Twenty20

Texture Designs and Emotions they make us feel 

Create Contrast – Stimulate interest

The easiest way we recognize texture is when placed with a contrasting one. It immediately draws our eyes to the difference and spikes our interest. An excellent example is the Rock on a Slope by Unterlandstättner Architekten, an extension to a simple house.

The residential extension cleverly uses textures; outside the glass are rough surfaces closer to nature, while the inside is smooth and clean. Even when the outside is manufactured, a distinct step away is present with rugged walls and broken stone tiles leading to pebbles into nature. On the inside, one immediately feels ease and a sense of peace as they enter because of the clean lines and lack of distractions.

 

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Rock on a slope_©Michael Heinrich

Hierarchy – Lead the eye 

Using the exact color tones but distinct textures is a subtle approach to direct the eye using texture. The architect employed three different materials in the same hue to lead the eye in the Palazzo Medici in Florence, ranging from the roughest to a smooth texture on top. The shift from the bold and edge-cut masonry of the ground floor to the more fine stonework of the third story makes the structure seem more elevated as the eye wanders upward to the cornice that tops and clearly defines the building’s form.

How do textures change the emotions in a space? - Sheet3
Palazzo Medici Riccardi_©httpsbuffaloah.comavirtualitalyflormrext

One material – different moods 

Concrete takes on the shape of the mold into which it is poured and can produce a variety of textures as it. Coarse, medium and smooth patterns in concrete are created based on the tool used to impart it. Casting in wooden floats imparts a grainy texture, and aluminum or steel tends to give medium and fine ones. Even the outer joints from pouring concrete in different stages can be used as texture to highlight the distinction between levels. Various finishes such as Troweled finish, brown finish, and salt finish are popular and regularly used by architects and interior designers.

Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture Building at Yale University depicts how concrete may have an abrasive and striking texture that creates emphasis when combined with components of polished concrete. Columns retain their harsh vertical lines on the inside, but the parapet and flooring have a smooth concrete texture that makes one feel safer than on the exterior. 

How do textures change the emotions in a space? - Sheet4
Yale Building by Paul Rudolph_©Richard Barnes

Use of texture in Parametric design

Designers nowadays seek to create more parametric designs and open spaces, moving away from cuboid rooms; texture can help to achieve this goal. Ckk Jordanki by Fernando Menis, situated in the historical backdrop of Torun, is one such example. The ‘rock’ shape flows from the urban surroundings to the park. Interiors vividly represent the dramatic walk one takes from the admiringly polished façade to the raw natural surroundings. The white glossy concrete exteriors contrast with the chipped red brick and concrete interiors.

How do textures change the emotions in a space? - Sheet5
Ckk Jordanki exterior_©Jakub Certowicz
Ckk Jordanki exterior_©Jakub Certowicz

Conclusion

New facades and materials are coming up daily, and the texture is becoming increasingly significant. The facade design pattern and how the surface feels are critical when creating spaces. Concentrate on creating using texture, from an aesthetic, and also from the perspective of how it will affect the users’ emotions. Parametric design can incorporate texture and materials other than concrete to direct visually and create soothing or adventurous experiences.

References:

  1. Donnally Architects, LLC. n.d. Texture and Pattern | Surface Variety Visual and Tactile-Donnally Architects. [online] Available at: <https://donnallyarchitects.com/texture-and-pattern/>
  2. Sağlar Onay, N. and Ricci, M., 2012. Stone as a determinant of architectural identity in the Florence of Renaissance. A| Z ITU Journal of the Faculty of Architecture, 9(2), pp.121-134.
  3. U-architekten.de. 2010. Unterlandstättner Architekten: Fels am Hang. [online] Available at: <https://www.u-architekten.de/projekte/fels-am-hang/>
  4. ArchDaily. 2017. Below The Extraordinarily Textured Surface of This Unique Polish Concert Hall. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/803431/below-the-extraordinarily-textured-surface-of-this-unique-polish-concert-hall-ckk-jordanki-fernando-menis?ad_source=search&ad_medium=search_result_articles>
Author

A student interested in understanding people and their relation with spaces better, both through the built and unbuilt. She is fascinated by little things and wants to share that feeling with the world through her words.

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