Cork has been everywhere nowadays, with its lightweight and flexibility, its becoming a strong material within design. Not to mention the overall soft and lovely look. This is brilliant news for our society, because Cork is cheap to manufacture, easy to recycle and is completely sustainable.
So what makes Cork so sustainable?
It all starts where its grown. Cork grows on trees in mediterranean climates (such as Spain, Portugal, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France) and the trees grow without any extra pesticides, pruning or irrigation. Instead of the whole tree being cut, the bark is harvested. This lets the tree live on to a ripe age of 250. During the Harvesting, trained workers who are paid a good living wage, strip the outer layer that does not harm the tree in any way. A good thing to know is that, even with the demand for cork nowadays, we are still very far from exceeded the amount of cork trees available.
After Harvesting, the Cork is taken to factories, where it will be dried, boiled and turned into different products. An amazing fact about these factories is that 90% of the energy used in processing cork is made from burning cork dust, absolutely nothing gets wasted from the bark from the tree.
The Benefits of Cork as a Material
Corks antistatic surface makes it a great resister to toxins and dust, making this perfect for people with allergies.
It’s soft cushion touch, creates a great floor or decor and it’s antimicrobial and water-resistant abilities also help combat mildew and old.
Cork is also a great material at blocking noise. Because of this, its very popular within commercial spaces or exterior walls to diminish outside noise. It’s also a great material to retain heat, making it an easy solution for homes to cut down gas prices.
It’s being used in day to day lives, from small decor details, to full on cladding. But below are a few ways it has been used in a truly magnificent way:
Surman Westman Cork Covered Studio.
This cork covered studio, provides a workspace for sewing and music-making in the back garden of a client. The cork cladding provides weather resistance to the structure, as well as acoustic and thermal insulation.
The Architects Tom Surman and Percy Weston described “The natural earthy quality of the thick cork, combined with the wild-flows rood, helps nestle the building into its organic green surroundings. ”
It’s easy to see how this was achieved, with this cork outhouse, providing the perfect space for an at home work environment.
Selencky Parsons Cork Lined Pod within it’s office.
In it’s own studio, Selencky Parsons has added a cork pod into its working office. The use of the cork pod, was to create a warmer atmosphere within the space, as well as creating more storage and use.
The Architects said “We wanted to create a comfortable working zone within the space, while maximising the benefits afforded by the highly visible site”. As you can see this was well achieved, as the cork pod offers so many more uses for the office, as well as bringing an edgy charm to the place.
Ikea’s Cork Furniture Collection
Ikea collaborated with London Designer Ilse Crawford, a launch of cork and natural homeware products. The Sinnerlig collection mainly features natural materials and neutral colours that would fit into any home.
The overall shapes, focus mainly on material combinations rather than statement shapes, which makes these pieces truly adaptable.
The predominant material is Cork, used in thin layers to cover table tops, to creating lampshades. Crawford explained that “Cork is very much a part of our range, because of its acoustic properties and it works great with glass”, she believes that it is an important repurposing for the material because “no one wants wine corks any more!”
There are so many new and innovative ways coming out for using cork, I hope we can carry on using this amazing product. We’ll be able to limit damages to the rainforest as well as keeping up with the new trends.