The Power of Natural Materials in Design

Micène Fontaine, October 19, 2023

Did you know your choice of building materials can impact global greenhouse gas emissions?

The built environment significantly contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions, resource demand, waste production, and indoor toxicity due to chemicals in common building materials.

The solution? Embracing natural materials.

Natural materials are not just aesthetically pleasing; they play a pivotal role in sustainable, resilient, and human-centric design. According to recent architectural studies, buildings constructed using natural materials possess superior thermal performance and indoor air quality, resulting in happier and healthier occupants. Furthermore, they reduce the carbon footprint, mitigating the impact of climate change.

Rammed earth
Rammed earth


How can architects and interior designers harness the beauty and sustainability of natural materials?

  • Material Selection: Begin by making informed choices. Explore the vast array of natural materials available, from wood and stone to cork and bamboo. Each material brings unique qualities to the table. Consider your chosen materials' environmental impact, durability, and aesthetic compatibility.
  • Design for Durability: Prioritizing natural materials necessitates designing for durability. When choosing materials like reclaimed wood, stone, or clay, ensure they are incorporated in a way that highlights their innate strength and longevity. This not only reduces the need for replacements but also fosters an enduring aesthetic.
  • Local Sourcing: Support local economies and reduce your carbon footprint by sourcing materials regionally. This reduces transportation-related emissions and celebrates a place's unique character through its natural resources.

Natural materials have a timeless charm while promoting well-being and sustainability. By making informed decisions, designing for durability, and local sourcing, you can create spaces that resonate with the essence of nature, weaving the history of the natural world into the very fabric of our lives.

For more inspiration, check out our blog post "Healthier Living Spaces: the Imperative of Healthy Materials in Design."  For a deeper dive, see our  Change by Design session, "Designing with Natural Materials."

Here's to prioritizing natural materials in design.

:Change by DesignBiodiversity