Exercise 2: The Word

I have chosen a word that best describes a feeling that I would like to evoke in a designed space, that word is GRATEFUL.

I have found 10 material samples that accurately illustrate my chosen word and made an A3 texture sample board, these samples describe the word, GRATEFUL. These materials I have sourced locally, using actual materials helps communicate my ideas in such a good way.

I created a mind map, which is always such a helpful exercise.

The materials I have chosen are;

  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Essential Oils
  • Cotton
  • Bamboo
  • Cork
  • Limestone
  • Brick
  • Hemp
  • Linen
  • Hessian

I also researched each material. The materials I have chosen are all natural materials as they have a reduced impact on the environment. This was a vital part of the exercise for me to help showcase my chosen word. I am grateful for all the natural materials and resources our planet can offer and when done correctly, the materials can be harvested without negatively affecting the environment. They can also be disposed of safely without increasing the levels of pollution in the air, land, and sea.

Wood delivers on innovative design, speed, cost and resource efficiency, health & wellbeing, and offers a low-carbon, environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional building materials. It is strong, versatile, light and the only construction material that is 100% renewable because it does not deplete the earth of its natural resources. It’s a resource that more or less stands on its own, it can be grown and harvested over and over again.

Stone is made from nature, by nature. It requires no chemicals or hazardous additives and does not produce harmful gases, like many other building materials. Compared to manufactured alternatives, like brick and concrete, it uses little energy in its extraction and production. It’s a natural material that has strength, structure, texture, density, hardness, porosity and absorption.

Essential Oils not only smell great, they reduce stress, treat fungal infections, and help you sleep. They are concentrated extractions from plants. A process called distillation turns the “essence” of a plant into a liquefied form for many medicinal and recreational uses. Apart from providing a pleasant smell, there are lots of different oils and they all have their own benefits.

Wool is a natural protein fibre found on sheep from around the world. It is biodegradable, renewable, breathable, hypoallergenic, flame retardant, energy efficient and hard wearing. As well as these benefits it can also be used as insulation, brick reinforcement, packing material and often used when upholstering furniture.

Cotton is one of the strongest natural fibres around and is more durable and resistant than other fabrics. It benefits from being biodegradable, breathable, absorbent but has a tendency to fade and shrink. It is mostly grown in India, China and the USA, where it needs a warm climate to grow. It is not very sustainable due to its harvesting and manufacturing process.

Bamboo requires no chemicals and very little water to grow, it is an environmental wonder-plant. Bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide from the air than either cotton or timber. It also releases more oxygen into the environment which improves air quality. It can be a very sustainable crop as it’s fast-growing grass, requires no fertiliser and self-regenerates from its own roots, so it doesn’t need to be replanted.

Cork grows naturally in the Mediterranean and Northwest Africa and originates from the cork oak tree which is an evergreen oak that has a thick corky bark, this is harvested to produce the cork. Every 20 years a cork tree is ready for its first harvest, which is of poor quality and so is used to make agglomerated cork products such as bottle stoppers, pin boards and insulation board. Every 9 years following, the cork bark is much better quality.

Limestone it’s often described as a soft stone but is actually much tougher than other common flooring materials like wood, carpet, vinyl or laminate as long as it has been sealed properly. This protection makes it very hard to stain, chip, scratch, or otherwise damage making it ideal for busy areas. It is heat resistant, a natural insulator and because it’s a natural material it makes it far easier to reuse or recycle.

Brick is the most economical material as its raw material is easily available. It’s durable, strong and there is very low maintenance cost involved. They offer sound insulation, help to control heat in the home and they have an aesthetic value. Red clay bricks are made of clay and water and contain no complex components or chemicals and this makes them completely recyclable which can be ultimately returned to our beautiful planet earth.

Hemp fabric is a sustainable textile made of fibres of a very high-yielding crop in the cannabis sativa plant family. Historically used for industrial purposes, like rope and sails, hemp is known as one of the most versatile and durable natural fibres. Hemp fabrics are stronger, more absorbent, more durable, and better insulating than cotton and as a crop grows extremely fast and requires no toxic pesticides or fertilisers, it also helps detoxify and regenerates the soil.

Linen is eco friendly, sustainable, versatile and breathable. It is moisture resistant and bacteria doesn’t easily grown in it, but easily wrinkles and if bleached or dyed, it can lose its biodegradable properties. Linen is one of the most sustainable fabrics because it is made from flax plants, a plant which grows without the need for fertilisers or pesticides, making it a renewable resource, one that is fast growing and can be produced without damaging the environment because the entire flax plant can be woven into a fibre, which means that almost no waste is left over from the spinning and weaving process. If organically processed without chemicals or intensive dyes, it also means no water pollution is made. Compared to other materials such as cotton, linen can be expensive because of its lengthy manufacturing process.

Hessian is completely biodegradable, given that it’s sourced from cheap yet sustainable plants. Hessian is a fabric produced from the jute fibre. The jute fibres are processed and made into this Hessian material which can be put into lot of use. No chemicals are used in this processing and hence it is considered as eco friendly. Hessian sacks are used for packaging products such as rice, coffee beans and potatoes. The woven nature of the fabric allows the contents to breathe and is therefore ideal for products that are moisture sensitive.

I then made an A3 texture sample board using actual samples of the materials I chose. I understand the value in using real samples to communicate my design ideas. I also played around with the arrangement in the garden with the natural sunlight peeping through and included a fig tree plant for context.

Fig. 1 – An A3 Sample board displaying the natural materials I have chosen

I picked up all the textile materials from my local Scrapstore, its a wonderful place where those with learning difficulties and autism get to meet, master new skills and move forwards. The scrapstore has an array of fabrics and craft supplies for sale, at a very cheap price, the staff are extremely helpful. Not only do they offer their trainees a programme and structure within the craft space, they also provide training in the cafe. One of their enterprises is TRACE. It is a social enterprise run by the Hub which is focused on recycling, reusing and reinvention. With the motto ‘leave no trace’, they aim to reduce the impact and trace what they save from landfill.

The wood, bamboo cane, red brick and slate were finds in my back garden, there’s always a reason I keep hold of everything, I’m now extremely grateful that I didn’t get rid of them! My neighbour is a dry stone waller and so after a chat with him about my project he gave me a piece of limestone and some ammonites, it’s bonkers to think that these fossils are over 10,000 years old! In the next part of this project I look further at ‘spiral’ and so these fossils seemed very fitting for my sample board.

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