Proof That Cork Can Be a Beautiful and Practical Design Practice


Cork has taken a few stops on its winding journey to showstopping interior design element: From the wine industry as bottle-stoppers (its most common and most lucrative use), then to badminton shuttlecocks and bulletin boards, next to a purely functional use in architecture as sub-flooring and insulation, and finally the walls, ceilings and floors in the homes featured in AD. The woody material’s pragmatic use in architecture is well deserved because of its elastic, cellular structure, its thermal-regulating and soundproofing qualities, and its natural resistance to fire, but it’s the cork’s natural warm hue and subtly dappled texture that are the secret to its modern design success. The versatile material can be dyed or painted (and still maintain its speckled look), it can be applied to walls and ceilings, and its inherent durability make it a prime choice for floors. Here, AD explores the varied uses of cork in spaces like one of Seth Meyers’s dressing rooms, a summer house designed by Thom Filicia, and the modernist home of GQ‘s Fred Woodward.

  •   1/8 Designed by Ashe + Leandro, a dressing room backstage at Late Night: Seth Meyers features the warm, natural texture of a cork wall covering by Wolf-Gordon. The space, which also boasts an overhead cork pendant light made by Benjamin Hubert, is livened up with a bright-red sofa, colorful artwork, and a lime green floral arrangement.  
  •   2/8 The striking black cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances are balanced with the softer, more natural tones of cork flooring by DuroDesign in this Hudson Valley home. Known as Obercreek Farm, the countryside residence has been in the family of financier Alex Reese for six generations and was renovated by his wife, architect Alison Spear.
  •   3/8 The cork-lined walls of this bathroom bring the surrounding landscape inside at a summer retreat on New York’s Upper Saranac Lake. The woody wall covering was selected by designer Thom Filicia, who designed the home, known as Big Rock, with an aesthetic that combines classic Adirondack style with modern updates.
  •   4/8 Renovated by Knight Architecture and designed by Miles Redd, a Connecticut home features this stunning playroom, whose walls and ceiling are lined with speckled sheets of cork. Complementing the statement walls are light, neutral furnishings, including an orblike paper lamp suspended above the beams, a white Saarinen Tulip table by Knoll, and sand-colored upholstery.
  •   5/8 Designer Arthur Dunnam designed this postwar Manhattan apartment for himself and his partner, Roy Cohen, with cork floors throughout. The neutral flooring is subtle enough to act as a blank canvas for the couple’s furniture collection, including a 1940s bench by Bernd Goeckler. Also shown here is a workspace, hidden by mirrored doors that reflect the warm-toned flooring.
  •   6/8 This master bath in a villa in Sichuan Province, China, features a clean, linear design accented with the subtle texture of white-painted cork walls. Designed by Taiwanese architect Wang Ta-Chun, the room is anchored by the rich tones of rosewood flooring and echoes the polished, minimalist aesthetic found throughout the rest of the home.
  •   7/8 A sheet of cork, which could easily double as a bulletin board, lines the desk-nook wall in the bedroom of an upstate New York glass house built in 1957 by architect Roy O. Allen. Owned by GQ design director Fred Woodward and his wife, Janice, the residence was renovated with a minimalist yet warm style by architect Sebastian Quinn and designer Brad Dunning.
  •   8/8 The guest room of a Brooklyn residence designed by Nick Olsen is covered in sheets of cork, whose tonal texture provide a backdrop for the space’s many eclectic patterns and decorations. A pink-and-green piece by artist Paul Hartigan pops against the neutral walls, while the cheetah-print bed covering blends in while still making a statement.

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