Charred timber cladding is primarily used as an exterior finish on new builds and renovations; however, it can also be incorporated into interior design. In this article, we explore the correlation between natural materials, customer experience and sales.

Benefits of Contact with Natural Materials

Despite urban living and technological advances, humans are part of the natural world. When we are in contact with nature, subtle changes including lowering heart rate, improved concentration and positive mental reactions create an overall feeling of calm.

Biophilia is an interior design concept that optimises natural light, incorporates foliage and uses natural materials and earthy colours, to bring the outside in. The connection between biophilic design and well-being means it is widely adopted for home and office décor, but what about retail?

Biophilic Interior Design in Retail

Since the 1980s, studies have been conducted to understand the benefits of bringing people back into contact with nature. The evidence suggests that a workplace with natural materials, light and plants increases employee health, productivity and retention. Incorporating nature into schools increases concentration, learning and attendance, and in retail settings it boosts sales.

Studies in America revealed that shoppers were drawn to well-tended streets with trees and plants. When the retail interiors embrace biophilic design, the shoppers were inclined to stay longer and had a higher perception of the value and quality of the goods being sold.

“Retail shops with natural greenery and daylighting consistently yield higher profit margins than their dim counterparts, offering a 12% competitive advantage for shops with more greenery and 40% for quality daylighting. Implementing biophilic design is not just a nice amenity. It has profound economic benefits. It is now imperative that we bring nature into our built environment.”

– The Economics of Biophilia, Terrapin Bright Green 2012*

New Era for Retail Design

Online shopping is pushing the need to completely rethink the purpose and design of retail units. Shelves and hangers full of goods simply aren’t going to cut it. To attract consumers, there has to be something which can’t be offered online; a full sensory experience.

It is no coincidence that nail bars and barber shops always seem to be full, along with tech shops where you can try out the latest gadgets. A visit to Hamleys has always been a delightful treat because the toys are out of the boxes, being played with, being demonstrated.

The modern retail unit needs to draw people in and encourage them to stay. It should enable customers to create connections, with the brand, the products and positive emotional feelings. The shopper may not be aware of what is sparking the feel-good factor, but they have a sense of wanting to return.

Consider the shops that you enjoy browsing in. How are they appealing to your senses? What makes you want to linger rather than just grabbing what you need and heading for the tills?

Tenki charred accoya cladding used in a bedroom
Bedroom wood finish, Stockport, photographed for James Latham Ltd.
Picture: Jason Lock
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Natural Timber for Interior Design

Ski lodges, log cabins and country cottages; there is something cosy and comforting about being able to see and touch natural wood. This is in part due to the insulating properties of timber, creating a sense of warmth, but it is also due to our innate connection with nature.

Each piece of timber has a unique grain, colour and character. The visual appearance and tactile quality add personality and dimension to interior spaces.

Natural timber is just one component in biophilic interior design. An article in Property Week** suggests taking this further by featuring water and green walls of vertical planting to deliver calming retail spaces that shoppers relish. As the writer states, it is all about delivering a ‘standout shopping destination’.

Sustainable Interior Design

Biophilia isn’t a passing trend; it has been a buzzword in design for years. The clear benefits for those who live, work, shop and relax in spaces that connect with nature suggest it is here to stay. As we switch away from a throw-away culture, investing in sustainably-sourced natural materials (that can stand the test of time) is crucial.

Our Shou Sugi Ban® timbers have transformed bars, restaurants, hotels and retail units. The charred timber cladding has been treated to a traditional Japanese technique of controlled burning in our on-site workshop. This process further emphasises the grain and enhances the texture. The resulting range of charred timbers delivers a timeless finish that elevates exterior and interior design.

Our timbers are impactful, yet low maintenance. They create a dramatic backdrop for any retail setting. To find out more about the Shou Sugi Ban® timber range, request samples and a quote, please get in touch with Exterior Solutions Ltd on 01494 711800.