Sensorial bathrooms with Clayworks
The question ‘can Clayworks Clay Plasters be used in bathrooms’ is the most common we are asked. Of course, the answer is ‘yes’, it is ideal for all of the bathroom walls and ceilings but not in the showers and wet areas. Clayworks can create a matching, mineral wall surface for the wet spaces to match any clay colour and texture to create a fairly seamless surface.
It is generally recognised that the bathrooms in our homes are the most popular rooms for the escape from the pressures of modern life, followed by the bedroom. The role of the bathroom is, clearly, of enormous significance in our lives and can provide many of us with some much-needed respite. Yet, bathrooms can often be harsh and sterile places with poor acoustics and cold surfaces. Considering how we can improve both mental and physical wellbeing through a multi-sensory approach can help transform the humble bathroom into a modern-day sanctuary.
“Sensorial” is a translation of a Japanese word “kankaku-teki,” which means “of the senses.” We experience the beauty of interior spaces based on all of our senses, sub-consiously processing the information we receive through our sensory receptors, our eyes, ears or skin or nose.
Clay plasters, with their soft, raw finishes that will always have subtle variations in tone and texture can be an essential part of the formula for a sanctuary bathroom as they encompass not only aesthetics but also air quality acoustics and lighting. Clay plasters will soften and absorb light. They also, conveniently, absorb odours.
Sound of silence
Our ears work even when we’re asleep – and when we are awake, we need to consider the impact those seemingly mundane sounds could have on our mental wellbeing. Think about the effect that a dripping tap, for example, can have upon your mood.
Bathroom sounds such as flushing toilets, running taps, pipes and drains will be magnified by cold, hard surfaces and partially absorbed by clay plasters. Most people have been disturbed, either while sleeping or while relaxing, but these sounds at some time in their lives and managing the acoustics within a bathroom is, therefore, key. Having a thicker clay plaster such as a Rustic or a Demi Rustic finish, will help to contain the noise within a space, both inside the room and behind the scenes.
The eyes have it
“The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty’s ends.”
Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows
There is no denying that lighting can affect our mood. The direction of a light source can transform a space and affect how a room might make us feel. Clay walls let the light diffuse and dissolve into the interior, which may be kept bare and minimal. Lighting positioned above eye level can create a feeling of restraint, creating a more formal atmosphere. On the other side, lighting positioned below eye level can invoke a feeling of individual importance and help establish a more informal setting. Meanwhile, exposure to harsh light sources, especially in the middle of the night can shock us and stimulate our sense of alertness, disturbing our natural sleeping patterns. Clay plasters absorb glare and soften light. Whereas so many modern materials reflect light, unfired, pure earth clay plasters absorb glare and soften light.
Touch and scent
A deep understanding of the importance of touch has allowed bathroom designers to adapt and embrace the ways in which we interact with our spaces and the technology within them. In these clay plastered bathrooms, wall-mounted taps leave natural wooden surfaces and ceramic sinks uncluttered and can make the clay plastered space more tactile. The kinesthetic sense can also be awakened by incorporating competing textures into bathroom design such as metallic materials.
Scent has a strong effect on our experiences and it goes without saying that this can sometimes have a negative effect in the washroom. Lavatory odours are generally dealt with by masking the unpleasant smell with a scented spray. Sprays and cleaning products often contain formaldehydes, which clay can help to clean the air of, but raw clays themselves will actually help to absorb odours.
A complete sanctuary
Taken together, the potential for wellbeing is at its highest when the design of spaces is informed and uniquely enriched by all four of these senses. We are entering an exciting new design paradigm, where we shift from creating just ‘bathrooms, to thinking about how the design process itself can elevate this space by considering the potential for wellbeing. As we acknowledge just how crucial the bathroom space could be concerning our wellbeing, it could be more critical now than ever before for designers to consider how they can take wellbeing to the next level in bathroom design.
Apart from the natural,calm,beauty,clay plasters are ideal for bathrooms because they absorb humidity. Studies by architect Tom Morton concluded:
‘There was such a strong short term response recorded in the bathroom following use of the shower … The clay plaster had such a strong ability to absorb peaks of air moisture after showers, clearing the air without surface condensation, that the extract fan, by comparison, had no statistically significant effect. This indicates that clay plaster surfaces can provide effective moisture control even in peak conditions, potentially avoiding the need for electro-mechanical air extraction with associated saving in equipment cost, energy use and improvement of airtightness’.
Bathrooms in office spaces
A new wave of designers is bringing new ideas and new values to washrooms in public and office buildings. Designers are drawing cues from nature, creating calming and refreshing ambiences with raw earth finishes.
Soft walls, biophilic features and natural earth tones work together to offer office workers a momentary escape from the office environment, to a calm, soft and quiet space.