Design

Design: very trendy cork

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In the Jardin des Quatre Saisons, near the Neptune fountain, occasional tables, harnesses, candelabras ... from the collection Le cork sur son 31, created by Marie-Christine Dorner and manufactured by HPK. In total fourteen pieces, removable, light, ecological, free to publishing. Here, with gray ceramic trays and white porcelain Bernardaud.

Bernard Touillon

Cap in the heart of Portugal, in the Alentejo, homeland of the cork oak, with this report Côté Sud. Focus on the harvest of this noble bark that inspires today our designers and eco design ...

Vert-de-gris mottling to infinity ... We are in Alentejo, in the kingdom of the king tree, the cork oak. From the convent of São Paulo, the cork oaks - of Quercus suber, cork oak - stretch out as far as the eye can see, 730,000 hectares! Its exceptional collection of azulejos, an insolent blue, welcomes the latest cork creations of our designers. This culture, present throughout the Mediterranean basin, reigns in Portugal, which supplies 60% of world production.

In 2011, this thousand-year-old material - found in the tombs of the pharaohs - seduces our creators. Precursors, Jasper Morrison for Vitra or Marie-Christine Dorner with HPK among others, are already using it in furniture. The rediscovery of this noble material, with today's applications and design, is new. Thus, Carlo Trevisani and his suspensions or Alessandro Zambelli and his "stools-sheep" for Seletti, or Philippe Starck on trendy yachts ... All, conquered by its phonic, thermal and aesthetic qualities, adopt the green attitude. No waste ! Cork is 100% usable.

The harvest, called removal or lifting, of the precious bark is carried out between May and August. The bare tree then presents an ocher of the most beautiful effect. By reconstituting itself, its skin will become gray, then black at maturity, nine years later! A cork oak takes twenty-five years to build. The first lift being unfit for making corks, we must wait for the following: 25 + 9 + 9 ... This production is around Evora and Lisbon, manufacturing and processing in the Porto region. It is the monk Dom Pérignon who will make the use of the cork for his divine beverage sacred! But if 70% of the harvested cork goes to the cork industry, there is not only the cork!

Amorim, a Portuguese company, leader in the international market, gave carte blanche to ten designers. The goal? Design an object of use, innovative and respectful of the environment. The Materia collection was born and presented in Milan last April. Others, on a smaller scale, also refine their research. Cork Supply is one of them. The taste of cork? An expression soon obsolete ... The repeated analyzes and controls at each stage of manufacture sign its end. And if the famous vineyards use top quality corks, the great wines use only the extra, called "mirror head": face, reverse and profile, zero defects. "We are in love with cork!" Say the foresters.

Thus, just like the "leveurs" who transmit their know-how from father to son, the properties, the herdades, remain in the families. "When my eldest will take over, it will be the sixth generation on the field." It is Luis Rodrigues Dias, owner of the Herdade das Barradas da Serra who speaks. Located in a hilly region, the place illustrates the "sobreira". It is a forest of cork oaks planted on rough ground, smaller and tighter, in opposition to the "montado". The latter is located mainly in the plains. The larger trees are scattered on a land of grain and grassland where game, black pigs and sheep breed. Here and there, a small rises, modest habitat, points its roof of pink tiles. Rural life follows its course, unchanged, in the shadow of the "sobreiro". "If you're worried about your son, plant a cork oak tree ...", the popular saying goes!

All our gratitude to the tourist office of Alentejo and the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR). Special mention to Joana Mesquita for her invaluable help during this report.



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