May 13, 2021

Cork Is On the Rise as a Flexible Furnishing Material

Cork’s stock is on the rise as a flexible material for all manner of furnishings.

Jiggle Box by Jesslyn Sutisna.

For her satisfyingly squishy Jiggle Box stool, Jesslyn Sutisna experimented with linear cuts to a cork cube, which cause the surface to react to weight and touch. The material—the renewable bark of cork oak trees—is most often associated with wine bottle stoppers, but its innate characteristics make it ripe for furnishings, too. “Cork has a lot of potential,” the Jakarta, Indonesia–based industrial designer explains. “It’s naturally insulating, elastic, and durable.” It’s also tactile, sound absorbent, fireproof, water-resistant, and lighter than water, notes Tom Dixon, who charred the substance to create a sculptural table. “In terms of a dream material, you couldn’t get a lot better.” Cork is also central to Enrico Rapella’s heat-storing bench, whose removable ceramic top can be warmed over a radiator before being placed on the cork bench base, which acts as an insulator: air-filled cells effectively block heat transfer. See also cork leather, a textile alternative to animal hide, which wraps Rodrigo Vairinhos’s metal-studded rock-chic pendants. Keep scrolling for these and more absolute corkers.

Design Studio Niruk’s Balanço cork swing with recycled PET rope by Cork Units.

Harvesting Heat cork bench with ceramic top by Enrico Rapella. Photography by Moonseop Seo/Enrico Rapella.
Together and Apart interlocking flexible-use cork furniture modules by Bjarke Ballisager.
Nate McCracken and Damein Williams’s Booklift book stand in agglomerated cork by Revision.
Cork round table in charred cork by Tom Dixon.
Rodrigo Vairinhos’s Corkstar pendant fixtures wrapped in cork leather with black- or gold-finished metal studs by Neo Design Studios

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