When decorating your home, you may choose furniture and accessories based solely on their aesthetic appeal (i.e. what they look like). But also consider the function and practicality of furnishings to achieve the best home interior, paying close attention to the quality and suitability of the materials used.
Here we share our knowledge of different materials and explore why designers, craftspeople and artists from across the globe have chosen to work with these materials to create quality furniture and home accessories.
While writing this article, we asked ourselves questions like …
Why did an award-winning textile designer choose to make her soft furnishings from linen?
How did a contemporary furniture design studio decide that red oak was the perfect timber for their collection?
And what makes bamboo an excellent choice for manufacturing eco-friendly home and lifestyle products?
From the Latin word concretus meaning ‘compact’ or ‘condensed’.
Concrete is made from an aggregate, such as sand, bonded together with a fluid cement that hardens (cures) over time. It’s versatile, minimalist and tactile. It’s also incredibly hard-wearing and furnishings made from concrete are promised to last! In its initial state concrete is a little porous, so treating concrete homewares with a high-grade sealant helps to waterproof and protect products from staining.
Komolab is a modern furniture and object design studio based in the United States, manufacturing home and lifestyle products from concrete and solid hardwoods. Kyle Comeaux, founder and principal designer of the company, chose concrete for its strength, durability and characteristic industrial chic, using it to handcraft stools, bathroom accessories and incense burners.Shop contemporary furniture and home accessories from Komolab :
Derived from the Latin word villus meaning ‘shaggy hair’, velvet is a soft, luxurious fabric characterised by a short, dense pile on one side. It can be made from silk, cotton, linen, wool or synthetic fibres. Whatever the parent material, the result is a plush textile that you can’t resist stroking!
The distinctive softness and sheen of velvet is often associated with royalty and nobility. Many people think of velvet as a luxury material, so decorating your lounge or bedroom with cushions, throws and bedspreads made of velvet will instantly add opulence and glamour to the rooms of your home.
Eleanor Nadimi is a London-based printed textile designer who loves to work with velvet! She received her master’s degree at The Royal College of Art in 2010 and later went on to launch One Nine Eight Five, a British homeware brand that specialises in print and interior textiles inspired by film, art and fashion. Many of Eleanor’s soft furnishings are made from cotton velvet and other luxury fabrics with bold, playful prints.Browse our range of cushions, blankets and throws from One Nine Eight Five :
The name Linen is derived from the Latin word Linum meaning ‘flax’, the crop from which this versatile fabric is made. Linen is of ancient origin, maybe the oldest known fabric in existence, with references in the bible and examples found in Switzerland that date back around 10,000 years!
The fabric is naturally beige, tan or grey in colour, although it’s often bleached white. No matter what colour, linen is a hard-wearing, strong and fairly shrink resistant fabric, often considered the foundation textile on which other textures can be layered.
It does wrinkle unless specially treated or blended with other fibres, but we think this adds to the texture and charm of this versatile material.
Carys Briggs, textile designer at Stoff Studios, who trained at both the Royal College of Art and Central St Martins, uses water-based inks and reactive dyes to print onto a crisp, heavyweight, unbleached linen. She then fashions the material into beautiful soft furnishings by hand.Shop hand-printed designer linen cushions from Stoff Studios :
Marble is a prized material formed from metamorphosed limestone. It’s heavy and durable, yet surprisingly easy to carve, hence it’s been used since the time of ancient Rome to create buildings, sculptures and décor. Each piece of marble is beautifully unique, with characteristic swirls and veins running through the lustrous, glistening rock.
Marble from the quarries of Carrara, a town in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany, Italy, was used to build some of the world’s most remarkable structures including The Pantheon, The Column of Marcus Aurelius, Michelangelo’s David and The Marble Arch.
London-based Mason + Black are experts in creating sought-after products that celebrate the sophisticated simplicity and natural beauty of marble. Artisans, who have vast experience working with marble, expertly handcraft coffee tables and other home accessories, such as book ends, vases and candle holders.Shop marble accessories and furniture designed by Mason + Black :
Derived from the French word Suéde meaning ‘Sweden’, the country from which this type of finish is likely to have originated, Suede is a luxury fabric characterised by a soft, velvety surface.
Compared to other fabrics like linen and cotton, which date back tens of thousands of years, suede is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history, used since the early 19th century.
Unlike most other types of leather, which are made from the topside of animal skins, suede is derived from the underside, or a similar synthetic material. It’s produced by buffing the hide to raise a fuzzy surface texture known as the ‘nap’. Hence suede is also sometimes known as ‘napped leather’ or ‘fuzzy leather’.
These Bloomingville cushions have a front of 100% leather suede and reverse made of cotton. They are a stylish, tactile and one-of-a-kind addition to your sofa or bed.Shop luxury suede cushions from the Bloomingville textiles collection :
Sometimes called ‘Champion Oak’, red oak is one of the most abundant and sustainable hardwood species in America. In fact, North American hardwood growth is close to twice the rate of its removal.
Oak timber is hard and heavy with a beautiful coarse grain that freely accepts dyes and wood stains. This gives flooring, cabinets and other furniture made from oak a distinctive surface texture.
Kyle Comeaux, founder of modern furniture design studio, Komolab, uses sustainable hardwoods like oak to handcraft contemporary cabinets, sideboards and stools. He stains the oak wood to achieve a rich ebony tone before applying a high-grade polyurethane to maximise its durability.Browse contemporary solid oak wood furniture from Komolab design studio :
Derived from the Latin words terra cocta meaning ‘baked earth’, terracotta is a clay-based ceramic (earthenware) that can be glazed or unglazed. In its unglazed state, terracotta is a textured, porous pottery that is rough, rustic and tactile. Once glazed or burnished the ceramic transforms, with a highly polished surface.
Eightmood Sweden, a Mälmo-based luxury homeware brand, were inspired by global interior design trends when they created the Alesso vase. This statement floor vase measures 73cm in height and is crafted from terracotta with an attractive distressed patina surface. It’s a bold and beautiful addition to a hallway, living area or conservatory.View the Alesso black floor vase designed by Eightmood Sweden :
Bamboo is a type of grass, widely known as the fastest growing plant on the planet, with some species capable of rising 3ft in height every day! It grows remarkably well in different terrains, from Asia and Australia to America and sub-Saharan Africa, without the need for artificial fertiliser.
Bamboo forests, sometimes known as ‘groves’, restore the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and help to fight global warming. A grove of bamboo releases 35% more oxygen than an equivalent mass of trees, and simultaneously purifies the air by absorbing carbon dioxide. What’s more, the fibres of bamboo are incredibly tough – stronger than steel – but surprisingly lightweight and pliable.
For these reasons, Bamboo is growing in popularity as the chosen material for many eco-conscious homeware brands. It's been crafted into bowls, tables, chairs and lampshades, and even developed into fabric to make cushions and blankets.
Danish interiors brand, Bloomingville, use bamboo is many of their luxury homeware products. The stylish, circular bamboo wall decoration from Bloomingville can be used in place of picture frames, adding depth, interest and personality to transform the walls of your home.View the bamboo wall décor from Bloomingville's modern homewares collection :