From sight to touch: tactile surfaces and neutral colours
Katrine Goldstein, managing director and partner at the Danish practice Norm Architects, made the following comment regarding the important relationship between tactile and visual senses in interior architecture projects: “Nowadays, we’re so overwhelmed by images and stimuli that architecture and design play a vital role in how people feel when they’re at home or in other environments. Colours inspired by nature and tactile surfaces are things we desperately need.” Industry professionals have responded to this growing demand for relaxing and calming living spaces by intensifying their research efforts in the field of materials, she added. This need for calm has led to compositional solutions capable of creating welcoming spaces based on neutral colours and earth tones such as beige and ochre, as well as material textures that shift attention from sight to touch. Bombarded by thousands of images every day and overwhelmed by colours, lights and sounds, once we close the doors of our homes behind us we feel the need to slow down, to immerse ourselves in a more relaxing space and reconnect with our inner selves.
Available in a wide range of pure and soothing colours, ceramic tiles offer a practical and effective solution to the needs of designers and their clients. At the same time, production process innovations together with a high degree of creativity on the part of companies and designers have led to the development of many kinds of tactile surfaces.
These include tiles with relief granules like grains of sand or regular, geometric ribbed finishes; 3D surfaces that are ideal for creating distinct but delicate geometric volumes; and surfaces inspired by natural materials in terms of colour, decoration and texture. The wood knots, the grainy feel of concrete and the irregular surfaces of stone and marble are clearly perceptible to the touch.
Combining nature-inspired colours with tactile surfaces, these design solutions are capable of customising rooms without the risk of blandness or monotony. The irregular surfaces generate stimulating tactile sensations and fascinating plays of light, enhancing the appeal of even the most uniform sizes and neutral colours and consequently also the spaces where they are installed.