It's clear that cork is not just for wine anymore. After we came across the Cork Cuff and started hearing rumors of Japanese kids wearing corks strung around their neck as jewelry, we decided to explore other ways the alternative and environmentally-friendly material is showing up in industrial design.
Although its elasticity combined with its near-impermeability make it the standard for wine plugsâstill taking up 60% of the cork marketâthere are increasingly creative and design savvy uses for the renewable, easily recyclable, hard-wearing material. Even better, the harvesting of cork does no harm to the tree. Not only is it a renewable resource that needs to be harvested to grow (unlike vinyl and other synthetic materials being used today) it does not release toxic fumes. Durable, easy to maintain, noise absorbent, light weight, rot and fire resistant, here are some products made with or paying homage to our new favorite material, cork.
Shake by Tonfisk Design are a pair of shiny white salt and pepper shakers (pictured above right) that sit on organic cork stoppers, which makes for a stable base able to absorb vibrations as well as allowing easy access for refilling. More importantly, the salt and pepper are easily distinguishable by the thoughtful concave and convex design.
They are available at Shop Composition for $48
Considering cork's fire resistant properties, this is a smart candle votive. (Pictured right.) Wrapped in a thin layer of cork, it won't burn the house down and remains cool to the touch. The tan cork gives off and nice color without the piericing brighteness of a naked flame.
It comes in two sizes; the small is available for $6 and the large for $15 at Straw Sticks and Bricks.
You can get these parquet cork tiles (pictured above, far right) in all colors and patterns for a variety of uses. Either prefinished in wax for durability or special ordered without the wax finish, the 1/4" thick tiles are customizable and an alternative to those bulletin boards you used to use in middle school. Versatile as well, they can be used for insulating purposes, office use, as a trivet, or however you see fit.
Click here for more info and details including pricing.
Available at Galerie Kreo in Paris France, furniture designer Martin Szekely designed this Chaise "Cork" chair. It is extremely limited (only five were made) and all are autographed. We got the chance to sit on it at Design Miami 2006 and with cork's soft and textured feel, it's pretty comfortable.
The price is available on demand from Galerie Kreo.
This 7" tall tea (or coffee) pot is made of vitreous porcelain and takes advantage of cork's insulating properties. The roughly cut cork lid insulates and keeps contents hot and secure and nicely contrasts with the modern lines of the ceramic. The removable "bracelet" of oak (or walnut) acts as a guard to keep you from burning your hand while pouring or drinking.
A subtle play on the more common use of cork when it comes to wine, this simple design holds your bottles in slings made of cork. Made by Amorim of Portugal, fittingly a leader in developing cork-made products, it was featured at Design Mais at London's Design fair in 2006. As an added bonus, cork's non-slip characteristic will keep that vintage bottle you've been saving secure.