Material Connection with Nature

THe eXPeRIenCe

A space with a good material Connection with nature feels rich, warm and authentic, and sometimes stimulating to the touch.

A material Connection with
nature is material and
elements from nature that,
through minimal processing,
reflect the local ecology or
geology to create a distinct
sense of place


While scientific documentation on the health impact of natural materials is limited, available research is beginning to shed light on opportunities for informed design. As such, the material Connection with nature pattern has evolved from a limited body of scientific research on physiological responses to variable quantities of natural materials, and the impact of natural color palette, particularly the color green, has on cognitive performance.


The objective of the material Connection with nature pattern is to explore the characteristics and quantities of natural materials optimal for engendering positive cognitive or physiological responses. In some cases, there may be several layers of information in materials that enhance the connection, such as learned knowledge about the material, familiar textures, or nested fractals that occur within a stone or wood grain pattern. Natural materials can be decorative or functional, and are typically processed or extensively altered (e.g., wood plank, granite countertop) from their original ‘natural’ state, and while they may be extracted from nature, they are only analogous of the items in their ‘natural’ state.
Design considerations that may help create a quality material connection:

  • Quantities of a (natural) material and color should be specified based on intended function of the space (e.g., to restore versus stimulate). In the same vein, a degree of variability of materials and applications is recommended over high ratios of any one material or color.
  • Real materials are preferred over synthetic variations because human receptors can tell the difference between real and synthetic, so minimally processed materials from real nature are preferred whenever possible.
  • Incorporating instances of the color green may help enhance creative environments; however, scientific studies on the impact of the color green have mostly been conducted in controlled lab environments, so dependence on color to engender creativity should be considered experimental.

• Accent details made
• Interior surfaces
• Woodwork, stonework
• natural color palette, particularly greens form/function
• Wall construction (wood, stone)
• Structural systems (heavy timber beams)
• Façade material
• Furniture form
• Footpaths, bridges

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