burnt cork furniture made of scrapped remnants with a raw to refined gradient

Jun 09, 2021

french designer and architect noé duchaufour-lawrance has collaborated with multi-disciplinary studio made in situ to present the ‘burnt cork‘ furniture collection. taking shape as an ode to the resilience of material, people, and process, the series showcases a variety of sculptural pieces — including chairs, stools and tables — made from discarded burnt cork, with each one exhibiting marks of its own history. from calcined bark to fine grain, from rawness to fluid curves, the project plays with dichotomies while serving as a symbol of the phoenix rising from the ashes.

noé duchaufour-lawrance arrived in portugal during the summer of 2017, entering the mountainous areas of pedrógão gran-de and being met by the destructive forest fires. this experience left a lasting impact on him, ultimately becoming a major source of inspiration for the ‘burnt cork’ collection. in october 2018, the french designer along with the made in situ team began exploring, meeting with local artisans, as well as a small family-owned cork production facility named NF cork, which traditionally manufactured architectural insulation blocks and was now pursuing an overall revitalization.

while touring within the NF cork facilities, noé duchaufour-lawrance noticed a pile of discarded burnt cork, an inherently portuguese element with the ability to protect the oak tree in case of fires. once harvested, the burnt barrier is peeled from the tree, allowing for the next layers of cork to grow. however, the burnt harvest is usually left behind by the modern-day cork industry. bearing these facts in mind, the designer developed the desire to create a unique material from burnt cork leftovers, combining it with the traditional cork block technique of NF cork.

the largest challenge in the creation of the collection was to hand-make blocks that would reveal a gradient from raw burnt cork to a refined finish, playing with different granularities. to manifest the designs called for state-of-the-art-technology and thus cork covering manufacturer granorte was brought into the team; the team is skilled in operating a 7-axis CNC machine capable of sculpting the organic forms that the designer had in mind. the pure form of the granulated block was purposefully kept visible as far into the objects as possible. at the bases of the furniture, where the granules are larger and the raw material exposed, the charcoal from the burnt cork is present; this tactility connects directly to the DNA of the material itself.

the bases are vertical, allowing for the best exposure of this gradient and connecting with the smooth curves of the upper planes. the textured pieces invite users to experience the material transition at every angle. in each piece, the distance between the vertical blocks impedes or favors the passage of light, generating a mesmerizing visual effect. this tension in perpendicularity is the expression of the collection. the horizontal culmination of all the pieces reveals their use, softly inviting interaction with the human body.

project info:

name: burnt cork designer: noé duchaufour-lawrance in collaboration with: made in situ