Touch-sensitive interiors using biomaterials
In our latest lookbook, we take a look at 10 earthy interiors from the Dezeen Archive that are outfitted with biomaterials such as cork, hemp, and mycelium.
Biomaterials or bio-based materials are made from biodegradable living matter. Other examples include wood, paper, and bioplastics made from plants such as algae.
They are increasingly used to help create earthy and natural interiors, but they also offer a number of healthy and environmental benefits, including natural cooling, breathability, and carbon storage.
This is the latest roundup in our Dezeen Lookbooks series providing visual inspiration for interiors. Previous posts showcase loft conversions, L-shaped kitchens, and Scandi living rooms.
The walls of Practice Architecture’s Off-Grid Flat House are made from large panels of hemp concrete – a combination of lime and hemp binder.
Hemp is a fast growing variety of the cannabis plant, often used as a green building material because it is able to sequester carbon. For this project, it was grown at Margent farm in Cambridgeshire, England and used to ensure the home has a low carbon content incorporated.
Panels have been left exposed throughout the interior to provide a warm and tactile interior finish, which is complemented by wood elements.
Find out more about Flat House ›
Cork is a renewable, strong and insulating material that is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree. In architecture, it is typically used as solid blocks made by heating and combining cork granules, as in Matthew Barnett Howland’s Cork House with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton.
In this project, the blocks are left uncovered throughout the interior of the building for a textured and natural look. It also ensures that the structure is recyclable after the useful life of the housing.
According to the architects, the use of cork also means that the house has negative embedded carbon, as it absorbed more carbon dioxide than it emitted during construction.
Find out more about Cork House ›
Bamboo is a fast-growing grass described by architect Simón Vélez as “vegetable steel” because of its strength and flexibility.
Architecture studio Brio used the material to support the roof of the Mumbai Artist Retreat in India. It is used in tandem with steel to create an easily removable and rebuildable structure. The bamboo was left exposed inside but arranged in a zigzag pattern to hide its “natural irregularity”.
Find out more about the Mumbai artists’ retreat ›
Paper mache is a composite material made of paper or pulp bonded with adhesives. In 2020, design-build studio I / thee used it to create a prototype house named Agg Hab. The structure combines nearly 300 pounds of recycled paper with 200 liters of non-toxic glues handcrafted by the studio.
The openings in the housing surfaces introduce light and accentuate its glossy finish. It was designed by the studio as an example of a house with low environmental impact and to offer occupants “a primordial experience”.
Learn more about Agg Hab ›
This pendant light is part of several pieces of furniture made from mycelium – the vegetative part of the mushrooms – used to decorate the zero waste restaurant Silo in London.
It was designed by Nina + Co to reflect the restaurant’s sustainable ethos. Next to the light colors, there are tables and poufs made of mycelium, chosen for their softness to the touch, their solidity and their biodegradability.
Mycelium is also capable of sequestering carbon and is cited by sustainability expert David Cheshire as “part of the solution” to creating carbon-negative buildings.
Find out more about Silo ›
The Kaikaya sushi restaurant in Valencia, Spain features large, circular raffia panels on its walls, which Masquespacio designed as a nod to the hats worn by rice field workers in Japan.
Raffia is a sustainable, renewable and biodegradable fiber obtained from the raffia palm which is typically used to make woven textiles, baskets and hats. At this restaurant, it’s paired with wooden furniture, colorful tiles, and cascading plants to deliver a tropical aesthetic.
Learn more about Kaikaya ›
The cane is one of the many natural materials used in the sleek RÖ Skin store by O’Sullivan Skoufoglou Architects. It comes from the outer part of naturally renewable rattan and is usually woven to create webbed patterns.
Here it has been mounted in an ash frame to create transparent displays and displays for treatment rooms, providing privacy while maintaining an open, light and earthy interior.
Find out more about RÖ Skin ›
The warm cave atmosphere of Yorunoma pop-up bar in Japan was produced by Naoya Matsumoto Design using strips of crumpled tracing paper.
The paper was crumpled by the studio in collaboration with local residents, giving a textured and rocky appearance. As the bar was created as an ephemeral place, the use of paper made it easy to recycle the layout after it closed.
Learn more about Yorunoma ›
Wood is the most common biomaterial of all. There are hundreds of examples of how different types of wood have been used by architects and designers in our guide to wood.
In this example, American architecture studio Hannah used ash damaged by an invasive beetle to create elements of this tiny ash tree cabin in upstate New York. The objective was to demonstrate the potential of the infested material which would generally be rejected.
“The advantage of using compromised ash for construction is that it both binds carbon to the earth and offsets the harvest of more commonly used wood species,” the studio told Dezeen.
Find out more about the Ashen hut ›
Thousands of injection molded seaweed tiles line the bathrooms in Frank Gehry’s Tower for the Luma Foundation in Arles, France.
They were manufactured by Atelier Luma in 20 colors by harvesting water-borne algae in the salt marshes of the neighboring Camargue nature reserve. As algae consume and store CO2 as it grows, tiles help reduce the carbon footprint of the building’s interior design. The project also uses salt-based tiles and sunflower-based acoustic panels.
Find out more about the interiors of Atelier Luma ›
This is the latest in our series of lookbooks providing visual inspiration curated from Dezeen’s image archive. For more inspiration, check out previous lookbooks featuring L-shaped kitchens, quiet living rooms, and colorful kitchens.