Natural Materials and Sustainability in Design
Updated: Apr 9
“This season, I am obsessed with four natural materials: stone, cashmere, live-edge wood and silk. Combining these materials in a variety of ways can transform an ordinary space into one of refinement and luxury.”
- Anna Popov
Natural materials have been a mainstay of the design world for as long as we can remember. Nature has always been a strong inspiration in art, fashion, and interior design, but the events of recent years have brought them to the forefront of our minds for a different reason. As a society, we are embracing environmental awareness in a big way; recognizing the importance of our impact on the Earth and our footprints left behind. With that in mind, designers and homeowners alike are embracing the natural materials trend, not just for their warmth, style, and versatility but also for their eco-friendly properties.
We all know the more common materials like wood, stone, wool, and linen, so let's look at a few of the less conventional natural materials and why we think they are here to stay.
Rattan and Cane
The rattan palm, known for the high speed at which it grows and native to Southeast Asia, is an environmentally friendly alternative to wood, and an on-trend way to bring texture to any room. Widely known under the collective term of “wicker”, rattan and cane were elevated as an everyday material when the iconic No. 14 Chair by Michael Thonet came to the fore in 1859. This chair continues to inspire modern dining chairs and mid-century modern interiors today. We see these materials used in headboards, baskets, bookcases, room dividers, and even lighting.
Bamboo is one of the most versatile plants in the world. Its strength-to-weight ratio rivals some of the strongest commercially available woods on the market, like hickory or oak. Although it is technically a grass, it is durable, highly flexible, and very strong. Like rattan and cane, its fast-growing nature makes it a prime candidate as a sustainable, eco-friendly product. As a result, we have seen a surge of bamboo in architecture, design, and décor. Used in screens, window treatments, flooring, and furniture, it adds a natural, authentic, and warm ambiance to your space.
Epitomizing the push for more organic, natural, and sustainable products in design, live-edge raw wood is at the forefront. Natural-edge furniture pieces are head-turners due to their modern, soothing, and natural vibe. Giving a less ‘factory made’ look, this material has a natural, long-lasting elegance. A word of caution: don’t overdo it! One striking piece made of raw wood is enough. Layer other textures around it to highlight your chosen item in its best light.
Cashmere often has us thinking of luxury and elegance, high-quality scarves and sweaters. While this holds true, many do not know the history of the fabric. Cashmere is a wool fiber obtained from Kashmir and Pashmina goats in parts of China and Mongolia. Its properties make it finer, stronger, lighter, softer and approximately three times more insulating than sheep wool. Some may argue the environmental impact of raising a herd removes it from the eco-friendly category, but when sourced from reputable, sustainable and traceable fair-trade providers it can contribute to the economic growth in areas that may not have other means. We think a little goes a long way with this beautiful textile, and we love to use it to layer textures and provide a touch of luxury in throws, pillows and even rugs.
Natural materials are ushering in a new era in home design, and we are here for it! Introducing wood elements, natural stone, plants, and textiles create a harmony between nature and how we live in and use our spaces. Paired with a minimalist design ethos (focusing on quality over quantity and “less is more”) we are more responsible consumers regarding our health, planet, and future.
At Interiors by Popov, we specialize in modern European luxury and have extensive experience with design projects from big to small.