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Model C: An Interview with the Designer

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Ed Hawes
Model C: An Interview with the Designer

The launch of the Model C cork side table is coming early next week, so as with all new product launches, we spoke to the designer to get all the intricate details about the product. 

Q: What are we trying to achieve with Model C?

J: It was all about setting a challenge. We started with the cork material, and the project was about using the minimum number of components as possible, to create a simple piece of furniture. The Model C side table is made from cork and ash, nothing else. The natural sponge of the cork material is used as a mechanical fit for the legs, so you only need to push the legs into the cork top (no Swyft-lok or screw in site). We wanted to keep everything as simple as possible, to create a piece that only included natural materials. It was a really fun piece to design.

Q: What inspired Model C?

J: Simply put, the inspiration was the cork material. Cork was the real hero. 

Q: Why did we choose to use Cork in this side table?

J: All of our furniture production is in Portugal, and Portugal is Europe's largest producer of cork. It’s an  incredible natural resource, which is only available in a few places around the world. Portugal has the perfect combination of climate and environment to allow cork trees to thrive, which allows the country to be such a big cork producer. 

We have partnered with an incredible company that manages their cork production so there is absolutely no wasted cork. Once in the factory, all of the cork is reused, there's not a piece of dust of the cork material which is wasted. If cork fragments aren't used in the product, it's used to produce energy within the factory.. Transportation wise: tree to factory is a few hundred miles, which minimises carbon emissions through production. For context, some other products have materials that travel halfway across the globe before reaching the assembly line. The Ash legs are also PEFC certified and there‘s no glue used in the product

Q: How did you go about designing Model C, what’s the process?

J: Firstly, I began by understanding the production around cork as a material. I’d never designed with cork before, so the first point was to find a manufacturer, with a wealth of cork experience and knowledge, who could show us how they use cork. I didn’t want to narrow myself down to a specific production method so I wanted to understand everything about cork. I wanted to know where it comes from, how it’s used in glass bottles, how it’s recycled into other cork products, and its entire lifecycle. 

I didn't want to be restricted by designing something to fit into a box, but it just happened that it was going to be the perfect size to fit into an already designed box, the Model 00. It‘s a perfect marriage.

Q: What part of the design was the most challenging? 

J: It looks simple, but it’s about the finer details. It’s all about getting the details right, in terms of the product itself and the way it's used. We had to make sure the balance was just right and ensure it's a really well thought through piece. 

Q: How long has it taken to design Model C, from concept through to launch?

J: It was pretty quick, it came about through experimentation: we tested and experimented with cork for about 6 months before we were happy to  launch the design. 

Q: From a design perspective, what areas did you need to get right before launching the collection?

J: Again, it’s all down to the cork material and applying the right finish to it. It’s inherently an incredible material which is mould resistant and is naturally fire retardant. It’s a material which possesses many incredible characteristics so it was important to ensure that we use this amazing material in the right way. 

We also wanted the design to not diminish the life of the cork, for example, if we designed it in the wrong way, the product wouldn’t last. Exposed sharp edges could break easily so the form was carefully considered to ensure longevity during many years of use.  We used natural oils, the same as the rest of the furniture collection, all of which is completely natural. It also comes with 0% VOC and has Eurofins Indoor Air Comfort Gold Label Certification.

We had to find the correct manufacturing process so we used a five access CNC milling machine which allows us to create the angle of the legs, as the sockets for the legs are angled. It also allowed us to create intricate shapes so we milled the logo into the bottom of the cork.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, you might also like reading the interviews for our other new products, here's the most recent: The Model A and B coffee table and side table and the Model 01 & 02 footstools and ottomans

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