THE BARK OF A MEDITERRANEAN TREE ADDS A WARM, INVITING TEXTURE TO INTERIORS
A versatile natural material, cork's latest incarnation is as a fashionable new fabric appropriate for everything from handbags to upholstery. (The fabric is formed by laminating ultra-thin slices of cork to durable woven materials.) Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, an evergreen that grows primarily around the Mediterranean Sea in southern Portugal, Spain and North Africa.The tree can live up to 200 years and its bark can be harvested a dozen times during its lifetime. Several millennia ago, Egyptians started transforming cork into usable products. Later, Greeks harvested the bark to make fishing buoys and sandals, and the Romans used it in everything from roofs to ships. The durable material can now be found in many parts of the home—walls, floors and even the living room sofa. "Cork comes in a variety of colors and visual textures, from chipboard to linear patterns," says Nicholas Sajda, principal at Bartels-Pagliaro Architects in South Norwalk. "It's easily matched to color swatches to achieve a unified look."
- Lightweight and resistant to rot, fire, water and insects, cork is durable and eco-friendly. It's a renewable crop that produces no waste when harvested.
- Cork is an outstanding insulator, capable of reducing heating and cooling costs and buffering the noise of a busy household.
- Naturally warm to the touch, cork maintains a surface temperature of 70 degrees.
- Elastic yet nearly impermeable, cork is a perfect stopper for wine bottles, the top use for the versatile material.