Corque Design, a Portuguese design studio focused on working in cork, recently made its official debut during NY Design Week. The firm showcased 15 products that are now available in the U.S. market, including furnishings and home accessories. Founder Ana Mestre started the company in 2009 hoping to take advantage of Portugal’s abundant natural supply of cork, which is a recyclable, non-toxic, and rapidly-renewable material that is extracted every nine years from the Sobreiro (cork oak) without the need to cut it down.
I am happy to see cork getting some attention, as the industry took a quite a hit back in the mid-1990s when some wineries swapped the traditional cork stopper with plastic “corks” or metal screw tops. In fact, in an effort to promote the use of cork in the building products industry, in 2001 I was invited by the Portuguese trade commission to tour a cork forest. Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled a few days after 9/11.
Included in this new collection is Rolha, a group of four cork candlesticks designed by Fernando Brizio, made from natural/black agglomerate cork. The pieces are a take on the idea of using old wine bottles as candlestick holders. Topography, designed by Luis Pessanha, is a collection of mats for hot tableware, which plays on the relationship between the regions where the cork oak trees grow in Portugal. Another wine-related design is Vine, designed by Ana Mestre, which capitalizes on cork’s natural insulating properties, and works as a minimal wine bucket for the table side or tabletop.The pieces will be available in the U.S. through Corque Design’s online store (not open yet) as well as at the MoMA Design Store in New York and other retail stores.