As is often the case, the natural world offers us something already so perfect that humankind could never better it. And so it is with cork.
Cork comes from the outer layer of the Quercus Suber, the Cork Oak. The bark is harvested every nine to twelve years causing no damage to the tree itself. Production is highly sustainable; as the bark grows back, the trees suck up considerably more carbon from the atmosphere than they would usually in order to fuel the photosynthesis that regrowth necessitates.
The cell-like structure of cork means that it is a material naturally elastic and impermeable. Completely waterproof and able to stand up to repeated impact, cork is also lightweight, hypoallergenic, fire retardant and possessed of soundproofing qualities. Add to these benefits that it’s possessed of an unrivalled mechanical strength and it’s no surprise that cork has long been used in a multitude of ways, not least being highly valued in architecture and interior design.
Cork’s versatility coupled with its speckled appearance – which is both subtle and naturally warm – makes it both beautiful and practical. Like other organic materials, such as leather and silk, it is incredibly tactile and inviting to touch.
Unlike leather and silk which never went out of fashion, cork is undergoing something of a revival at the moment and no longer deserves to be associated solely with the 1970s or the pin boards of our youth.
To see AU’s collection of vintage cork lamp bases and other carefully sourced pieces, click here.