Don’t underestimate the power of texture. This crucial design element creates connections, makes colours pop and inspires joy and wonder.
Close your eyes and think of your favourite mug. Rather, think of how it feels in your hand. Smooth? Ridged? Dotted, or lined, perhaps? That amazing tactile feeling – that’s texture. And, although it’s often underestimated, texture is crucial to great design.
In design parlance, texture is all about your sense of touch. And while texture may play only a supporting role to a product’s functionality, it has the power to change the way your mug, cocktail glass or tableware looks and feels.
That’s because texture is key to uplifting visual elements like patterns and colours, elevating the overall aesthetic of an item, and creating a connection – both physical and emotional – between us and the objects we use. Foregoing texture is not unlike cooking a beautiful recipe and forgetting the seasoning: essentially, without texture, you’re missing an essential element of great design.
“It’s what brings a perfectly fine design up to the next level,” says BOMSHBEE designer Emily Fan. “Hues are usually the first thing that draws us towards objects, but texture is what hooks us.”
It’s actually pretty easy to see why, she continues: “As humans, we need, even crave, tangible, physical interactions with things around us.” Texture provides that connection, enabling a deeper sensory experience while simultaneously “breathing new life into a product – be it a dinnerware set, chopsticks, or a tea cup.”
Texture also has this magic ability to let objects ‘speak’ to us. Our sense of touch is deeply rooted in memory, eliciting nostalgic sensations from childhood and other precious moments, thus triggering the emotions we felt in the past. “Specific kinds of textures can literally inspire joy, or wonder, or delight,” Fan says. “That’s how important texture is.”
Textured surfaces can also add visual weight to an item. For example, tough textures are more likely to make an object feel grounded and more substantial, while smooth textures communicate a sleeker, lighter vibe.
It provides balance, too. “If a plate or a bowl has a particular colour palette where the shades are very similar, our eyes tend to just glaze over it,” Fan says. “Using a contrasting texture can make it more harmonious, more interesting.” Similarly, texture variation can be used to emphasise certain elements and deep textures can become elements in themselves.
When it comes to designing BOMSHBEE products, Fan takes texture very seriously – it is one of the core elements of her creative process. “I get inspired by things and places in my everyday life, and observe the tactile feelings they trigger. Oftentimes, I try to recreate those feelings in the items I make.”
As an example, she points to BOMSHBEE’s Silo Porcelain Salt & Pepper Shakers, which feature wavy, curved lines that were influenced by Japanese Zen gardens. “I wanted to make a product that would echo that same sense of calm I had experienced when visiting those gardens,” Fan explains. “So I came up with those textured lines, which I think are quite soothing.”
When it comes to balancing colors, functionality and texture? The Tinge Porcelain dinnerware series, with their contrasting glazed and raw finish, is the perfect example. “Those plates have a soft, smooth feel on one side and a matte finish on the other. They are ‘solid’ tableware items, yet feel and look elegant and light, and texture is what helps achieve that,” Fan says. “It’s the texture that really completes the product.”
Check out more of BOMSHBEE’s thoughtful textures and minimalist designs: