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Portuguese cork in London Design Biennale 2021

Corticeira Amorim is supplying cork for the construction of the centre of Forest for Change, the Global Goals Pavilion.

The installation at the heart of the London Design Biennale 2021 at Somerset House includes a central clearing that is entirely built from cork which will house an interactive installation where visitors can learn about the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs),

In contrast to the noisy and polluted streets around Somerset House, Forest for Change will be an oasis of calm. Developed by landscape designer, Philip Jaffa of Scape, the pavilion will incorporate 400 trees in total. When the courtyard of the London palace was built in the 18th century, the project prohibited the inclusion of trees and therefore their massive presence in this installation is a clear allusion to the audacious and ambitious nature of the Global Goals.

Jack Headford, the Associate Designer at Es Devlin Studio, explains: “We proposed the idea of introducing a young forest within Somerset House as a provocation, aimed to inspire and maintain the wave of environmentalism, showing visitors the possibility of what this can involve.”

At the heart of the Forest, the central clearing will reveal a pavilion consisting of 17 mirrored pillars, representing the Global Goals. They will bring to life why the Goals are the world’s To Do List for people and planet through inspiring quotes and facts about the world we live in. At the end of their journey – at the 17th pillar representing Partnerships for the Goals - visitors will be invited to choose the Goal they feel most passionate about and to record a short message expressing the change they wish to see in the world. 

"Cork seemed the obvious choice"

In relation to the choice of cork, Jack Headford explains: “During development of the project, it became obvious that we needed to work with materials that convey a sense of empathy and robustness within the forest. Cork seemed the obvious choice, due to its wooden tones and smooth texture, and its inherent sustainable nature - as a renewable and biodegradable material. Cork also provided a safe and resistant flooring option that blends perfectly with the forest floor, enabling visitors to walk freely among the trees.”

This paved the way to the partnership with Corticeira Amorim, that provided technical support and supplied solutions based on cork, as a 100% natural, ecological, renewable, recyclable and reusable raw material, that embodies the ethos of the Global Goals to protect people and planet. Moreover, Corticeira Amorim's sustainable development strategy is based on these premises. “The company’s core objectives and commitments include the circularity of processes, the increased sustainability of materials and reduction of CO2 emissions, waste and pollution”, explains Cristina Rios de Amorim, director of the world’s biggest cork processing group. 

“Our presence at London Design Biennale 2021 is another opportunity to address a specialised audience and promote cork’s unique benefits in building a social, cultural and environmentally equitable world”

Cristina Rios de Amorim

“The accelerated transition to a circular bioeconomy, based on improving the efficiency of the use of cork throughout the production process, including the remarkable 100% use of the material, is central to the future success of Corticeira Amorim”. She underlines: “Forest for Change, which will also address questions of education and development, occupational health and safety, peace and justice, among other equally fundamental issues, will certainly help broaden the debate and enhance everyone’s contribution to achieving the SDGs. Just as Corticeira Amorim has been doing to date.” Cristina Rios de Amorim finally adds that “our presence at London Design Biennale 2021 is another opportunity to address a specialised audience and promote cork’s unique benefits in building a social, cultural and environmentally equitable world”.

This idea is corroborated by Ben Evans, the co-founder and Executive Director of London Design Biennale, who remarks “we are now at a turning point in the creative universe, where it is increasingly difficult to do something that is not sustainable. I believe that this endows cork with an impressive advantage. On the other hand, I think that people are beginning to understand cork’s reach, relevance and depth. The journey of this brave new world of design has a very positive starting point”, he concludes.


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