New Perceptions of Luxury

We were recently asked to join an architecture & design round table to discuss ‘new perceptions of luxury’ in the wake of the pandemic.

In particular, architects & designers wanted to hear how Clayworks Clay Plasters help them meet customers changing briefs as the worlds’ focus has shifted over the past 12 months towards new priorities and ways of living. We thought we would share a few of our thoughts.

Luxury can no longer be standardised in building design. Neither can it easily be purchased off a shelf. Natural materials, such as 100% natural clay plasters, make every place special, unique and multi-sensorial. When we collaborate with designers looking for custom wall finishes, we no longer get briefs that say ‘we want a luxury material’ or ‘a finish for a luxury home’.  Instead, a brief will be the ideas and thoughts around sustainability and aesthetic visions to stand out from the crowd. Combined, these are now vital ingredients for spaces and projects to look and feel more luxurious. The idea that luxury is lavish and excessive is now an outdated mindset.

Clayworks Clay Plasters fire all the senses. They are 100% natural with no polymers, oils, additives or lime. The absolute rawness – clay does not ‘set’ like most other plasters, or indeed paints – and the natural textural and colour variation heighten the senses and the emotional connection with that space. Then it feels luxurious. Luxury is no longer a look or an aesthetic but much more a feeling that can only be achieved by raw materials such as clay and straw, wood, wool, sisal, and stone.

Bespoke finishes, both in commercial and high-end residential, give the flexibility to respond to a project individually – it’s a great way to bring in local vernacular. Post pandemic retail projects, in particular, need to have a strong identity if retailers are to attract people back to bricks and mortar post the year long click & deliver culture. At Clayworks, few projects have a cookie-cutter approach. Instead, we respond to everything individually and that allows designers to genuinely craft wall and ceiling finishes as opposed to just selecting them.

For example, Treen, a vegan fashion boutique in Edinburgh, refurbished an historical building in Leith, Edinburgh, following the philosophy of ‘Positive Vibes Only.’ Treen has  a commitment to only stock brands that take their impact on the natural world around us seriously. They look for ‘innovative and industry leading techniques to create products that hit the spot for functionality and feel, but minimising harm’, and so Clayworks, paired with the natural stone and wood uncovered during the refit, was the natural solution for a luxurious, yet sustainable wall and fixed furniture finish.

There are so many incredible designers who are creating awesome things that we love to embrace and collaborate on with them to help make unique and extraordinary places.

Trust is vital, whether creating wall finishes for a living room for a homeowner or for a global brand. The relationship now between ourselves and designers is as strong as ever, as our company grows and the walls that were finished in Clayworks 12 years ago are as good as ever.

Our history is rooted in holistic natural building, mainly working with cob, lime and clay, but for our founders, it came back to the senses when deciding to specialise in clay. It’s a simple, humble material and yet highly complex at the same time. A unique, cloudy and soft aesthetic, clay dampens sound, absorbs glare and odour and feels earthy to the touch, elevating all senses. Multi-sensory design is the future if a design is really ambitious or unconventional, custom, natural wall finishes become the best and sometimes the only option.

We have seen an increase in enquires and requests for our materials because for designers and architects working on luxury projects, it’s now also about health , materiality, longevity and sustainability.  Luxury is now also the reassurance that the brand behaves consciously, lives up to its values, and offers a deeper and more meaningful experience for consumers. In 2020 we opened our business to environmental specialists to create an Environmental Product Declaration, to prove what we have always said – that Clayworks Clay Plasters are the most sustainable wall finish available.