28 Jul Cork a soft hardwood
The holiday season enables us to travel abroad, experience new places, and create memories that will sustain us for the months ahead. I saw my first Cork Oak forest in Andalusia Spain in 1990; the farmer harvested the bark every nine years so the trees remained healthy and productive. Thoughts of that trip come back whenever I open a bottle of Rioja. Classed as a hardwood Cork Oak is a native of the Mediterranean. It is a survivor. After a forest fire new branches grow from the trunk; the tree’s life is preserved by the thick layer of soft cork bark.
We think about cork being used for bottle stoppers, pin boards, and cork tiles but it should no longer be considered in utilitarian terms. In its raw state cork can crack if it dries out but after processing it is shown to be durable and flexible. It has sound absorbing qualities and takes colour very well. Cork has moved up the ladder from the mundane to luxury and it is used in a range of contemporary designs.
Sustainability is a key element in the design ethos of Jenny Espirito Santo, owner of Mind the Cork. Jenny sources bark from Portugal and when I met her in 2015 my horizons expanded. Cork is far more versatile than I ever imagined. I was impressed by her homeware designs but her cushion covers stole my heart. Jenny has developed a fine material, quite unique; no-one else to my knowledge has done this. The cork looks like canvas, feels like fabric and is silky to the touch.
Image credit: Mind the Cork