Natural fibres have been used in homes, furniture, fashion and textiles for centuries. It is only in the last hundred years that the invention and mass production of synthetic fibres has appeared. While they offer a different set of properties that have proved useful in that time, the recent spotlight on the environmental impact of plastics and synthetic material manufacture has proved eye-opening, and has made us all more aware of the damage they can cause to not only the natural world, but to our own health. Beyond scientific properties, there is also a refinement found in using natural materials (over man-made) that adds a certain sincerity and connection to our organic environment.
When it comes to interior design, any good designer will remind you that the spaces we create for ourselves to live in should offer us comfort, protection and a sense of belonging. We also know that the human body is designed to respond to different features of its surroundings, such as flora, fauna, colour and texture. It makes perfect sense that if we surround ourselves with unnatural materials we may begin to feel out of place. By embracing natural materials, and creating our homes with them, we are remaining true to our biology and honouring the irreplaceable intuition our brains and bodies provide us with. This, subsequently, means we are building homes that will allow us to feel naturally safe, secure and comfortable, in turn allowing ourselves to live and work to our fullest potential.
The aesthetics of natural fibres can vary enormously, harnessing mother nature’s only flair for colour, texture and diversity. Options are near limitless and our methods—both traditional and more modern and sophisticated—for turning natural fibres into usable design pieces mean that we can be inspired by nature while maintaining a strong sense of personal style.
Linen and bamboo are two of the most popular natural fibres sourced by interior designers. Combining its ability to breathe, natural absorption and organically anti-bacterial nature, linen is a hypoallergenic fibre that is safe for all. It is often found in bed sheets and upholstery, and is particularly popular in warmer climates. It is also perfect for creating high-quality, soft-to-the-touch rugs. Topfloor’s own linen designs combine the gentle resilience of linen with a neutral colour palette inspired by nature, bringing both the aesthetic and physical properties of natural materials into the home.
Bamboo is another miraculous but completely naturally occurring materials. Its fibre offers the same hypoallergenic properties as linen, fused with a toughness and durability that is perfect for indoor-outdoor spaces, family homes and areas with heavy footfall. Bamboo is also a great alternative to silk, as it provides a natural sheen with less fragility. These hard-wearing but beautiful bamboo fibres can be found in many of our designs.
What many designers, including our founder Esti Barnes, will testify to, is that the key to creating great interiors and designed products such as rugs and furniture is a comprehensive knowledge of the differences between man-made and natural fibres, and when and how to use them, and with what design and manufacture processes. Ask an expert how to include natural fibres in your home and you’re one step closer to creating an environment that will help you thrive.