Textures. A World of Feelings in Spa Interior Design


In our previous post, we talked about the importance of design in “client experience” and shared a few tips on successful design.  This week, we will share some insights and basic advice on an extremely important, but sometimes overlooked, area in design when it comes to the spa and wellness industries: the world of textures, and it´s importance in the outcome of ensuring a good client experience.

Texture is the property that objects’ outer surfaces have, and the feelings they cause, which are captured by the sense of touch. It is also described as the ability to perceive tactile sensations.

The philosophy of the wellness is to create experiences that generate sensations of well being.  Texture, by its definition, is therefore directly related to the objective of our business.


Nowadays, everything seems to have been done in design. If we take a look at major international projects, we can see that they do not innovate in form, but in material. The skin of a building is what gives it its real identity.

Names such as Herzog & de Meuron, have made of this idea their work philosophy. Projects such as the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Beijing National Stadium, or the Dominus Winery in California, found their personality in their enclosure. Their materials are their hallmark.


Dominus Winery, California. Herzog & de Meuron


Based on this approach, and focusing on interior spaces, there are four points that we would like to share that need to be taken into account when working with different materials, and more importantly, their textures.


Difference between visual and tactile texture

Everything has a texture. When we touch different objects, we feel sensations that are not always about touching, and that are kept locked up somewhere in our memory. However, when we see a particular texture from a distance, without getting our hand closer, we get some psychical emotions. Hence the importance of both tactile and visual texture. Tactile texture is obvious.  Visual texture, however, is sometimes overlooked.  It is only with light and colour that the atmosphere of a particular space will be determined.


Relationship between texture / light, and texture / colour

When designing interiors, one should take into account three basic concepts; light, colour and texture, as all three are closely related and dependent on each other.

Texture becomes even more important with a monochromatic palette. If we pick out the same surface finishing on the materials we choose, the result could be flat and boring. However, mixing opposite textures is always effective in these situations. The more risk we take, the more exciting the result will be.  We should not, however, forget the use, and the fact that the overall result must be harmonious.

As for its relationship with light, we have some basic ideas, like rough surfaces to absorb the light, while the polished ones to act like mirrors. In the same way, smooth surfaces make the colour appear lighter, while textured ones, make it appear darker.  Other subtleties, such as the position of a window, and the material used in the areas next to it, are also important.  Shadows accentuate texture.


Effect of light on the roughness of surfaces


The functional side of texture

The materials used in a space must always be conditioned by the use they will have. While there are rooms that play a neutral role in terms of the activity to be carried in them where different design solutions are possible, there are others where “the skin”, and the feelings it generates, will be the first thing to consider.

For general work areas, where a hygienic and tidy look are important, smooth surfaces should be considered.


In small spaces, and with a basic colour choice, it will be the textures that make the space look different


We should not forget the temperature of materials and how we employ them depending on their function. Smooth materials like stone, which may appear to give a cold look at first sight, will not give us that impression if we think, for example, of worktops in treatment rooms, where they probably will be the most hygienic option, as therapists will be handling products on them.

Materials such as cotton or wool should not only be considered for sheets and towels.  Different types of fabrics may be used to dress walls thereby adding a warm look to the area.


Texture and its influence on the sound of a space

Another point to consider is the acoustic behaviour of material, following a very simple guide: the rougher the material, the better the acoustics. Depending on the use of a particular space and its surrounding areas, this is of vital importance, as smooth walls, with no shapes that break their homogeneity, will produce a reverberation of sound, something that is extremely uncomfortable in rooms where good acoustic absorption is required.

The field of materials is vast, and is one of the determining factors in the visual impact of our facilities. We should not just think about shapes when we talk about design, but also on what they are covered by. We are beings that want and need immediate sensations. We perceive what we see and what we touch, and in both situations, visual and tactile texture, with all their nuances, will make the design of our facility a success or a failure.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/sonaluberoi.

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