We are thrilled to be launching our new cork collection this week at the Colony co-operative showroom in New York. This collection is three years in the making and is fully inspired by the unique properties of cork itself.
In order to talk about the collection, we first have to share what it is about the material that has fascinated us for years.
Cork is made from the outer bark of the cork oak tree. These trees grow in Mediterranean climates and can live for up to 200 years. The bark is hand-harvested every nine years without harming the tree in any way. This makes it a rapidly renewable material and a powerful carbon sink. Due to the regeneration process, the more bark harvested from the tree, the more carbon is absorbed.
We are grateful to source our cork from Amorim Cork in Portugal which is a family-operated business founded 1870. The drought-resistant cork forests where our cork is harvested are home to over 200 animal species and 135 plant species. These forests require no chemical agricultural inputs. In addition to all this, the inherent properties of cork include being hypoallergenic, moisture and fire resistant, sound and heat insulating as well as soft and resilient to touch.
When developing the collection we wanted to honor this extraordinary material first and foremost. We designed a series of sculptural tables and benches that took advantage of the block and cylinder forms that are standard in the cork production process. We used these standards as the basic formal components of our final designs.
Our brief to ourselves was to celebrate the cork by finding the most efficient ways to shape our forms so that we were left with minimal waste. We have always been interested in the intersection of technology and craft. This collection is a further exploration of that intersection.
In all of our work, our hope is that we are building furniture and objects that will be passed down for generations. That said, at the end of its useful life, cork is fully biodegradable.
Cork is not a material local to our studio in the Pacific Northwest, but even with the carbon footprint of shipping from Portugal accounted for, our cork is still considered carbon positive. In addition, Grain measures, mitigates and offsets all of our operations from product fabrication all the way to client delivery with verified carbon offsets as a Climate Neutral certified business.
In our next newsletter, we will explore the life lived that we envision for this collection. In the meantime, you can see it all in person at Colony as part of Here at Colony, 2021 September 22 - 24, 2021 or by appointment. You can also see the full collection on our website here and reach out to us with any questions here.
It feels wonderful to be bringing new work into the world. Along with Amorim Cork, we are grateful to our team: Hannah Bartlett, Hannah Chebeleu and Charlie Powers for their contributions to the process.
Photography: Ben Blood, Ben Blood, Amorim Cork, Ben Blood, Ben Blood and Ben Blood.