How Ordinary Materials Can Create Extraordinary Textures

Here at Atelier Drome, part of the regular design process involves creating a board of inspiration images which means we are always on the look out for new ways of using materials to create beautiful spaces and structures as well as solve design issues. Sometimes the difference between creating something truly unique that fits the character of the space does’t involve the use of new and advanced materials but rather using an otherwise ordinary material in an extraordinary way to create an entirely new experience.

For a residential building in Tehran, the material of choice for Admun Studio is brick which is a typical material used throughout Iran. The design team was brought on after the structure itself was completed and they were left to resolve several issues through the design of the façade. They describe the need to “provide maximum privacy yet fulfilling other features such as moderating light, limiting view from outside, organizing chaotic experience of the terraces and decreasing high-traffic neighborhood noise” that lead them to the artistic design of a modulating textural surface. Using these simple materials in a new way, the surface not only solves several issues at once but creates a unique visual piece in the neighborhood

Repetition is often the key to creating what looks like a new material by way of using a simple smaller piece multiple times that is then transformed into a larger surface structure. In Japan, Kengo Kuma & Associates did just that with a Starbucks location. The design sought to marry a new, modern space with the surrounding design aesthetic of traditional Japanese structures by using “a unique system of weaving thin woods diagonally.” The result is not only unique but creates kind of a vortex that feels as though it wants to suck the passerby into the café and possesses that dynamic energy that goes beyond just creating visual cues or leading lines intended to draw people inside.

In Spain, the simple material of wooden sticks is used as well but takes on an entirely different character designed by Ideo Arquitectura. This time, the surface takes on a softer feel as the ceiling of a bakery that is in a long narrow space lined with old, exposed brick that would otherwise feel like a dark cave. Instead, the sculptural ceiling guides visitors in and creates an almost glittering surface and reinforces the overall brand of the shop while creating visual interested that works with the highly textural existing walls without clashing or completely dominating them.