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Cork in the garden of the future, by Tom Dixon and IKEA

Cork in the garden of the future, by Tom Dixon and IKEA

The interactive garden created by the British designer won the silver medal at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show, in London, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society. Case Studies

Because it is a 100% natural and recyclable material, cork is one of the main raw materials used in the installation, Gardening Will Save The World, in the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show in London. Created by British designer Tom Dixon, in partnership with IKEA, the project promotes sustainability by encouraging home cultivation of vegetables and plants in urban environments.

Gardening Will Save The World is a space for experimentation and reflection on the social and environmental benefits of home gardens and vegetable gardens in cities, recreating a lush green space, with over 7,500 plants. Divided across two levels, the project combines traditional agricultural methods with the latest agricultural technologies.

Cork is applied in the floors, staircases and items of furniture. Easily mouldable, comfortable, sustainable, soft to the touch and extremely versatile, cork is an attractive material for a wide variety of projects in the most diverse areas. In this specific case, it is used in the fields of design, architecture and furniture.

“We used cork for our steps, floors and raised platform for its low environmental impact as a material. Perfectly rounded off edges are manufactured by machining large blocks of composite cork. The remaining offcuts of cork and granules are reused to create new composite cork materials.”

Tom Dixon, Research Design Studio

  • Cork: a natural and sustainable choice

    Based on his commitment to work only with natural, sustainable or directly recyclable materials, Tom Dixon chose agglomerated cork to cover the floors and the stairway leading to the garden’s upper level.

    Cork is also used in the items of furniture that invite visitors to sit and contemplate the green surroundings. The mushroom-shaped tables and chairs were produced by Amorim Cork Composites, using CNC machining, specifically for the Tom Dixon project.

  • Dialogue between nature and technology

    A horticultural laboratory was created on the ground floor to explore innovative techniques for growing vegetables and herbs in urban settings. The technologies used include vertical cultivation, using aeroponics, and other forms of hydroponic cultivation (without soil), as well as LED lighting to accelerate plant growth.


    On the upper level, the designer conceived a botanical oasis, in which visitors are invited to immerse themselves in a natural environment. This garden has a dense polyculture, with trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs and medicinal herbs, that aims to inspire and encourage cultivation in people’s homes.


    The modular plant beds were made from FSC-certified wood, and the galvanised steel structure was produced with zero emissions.


    The garden consists of modules showing that it can be set up in a very small area, such as a balcony, and also be scaled to suit an entire community. The technology enables plants to be grown within controlled environments over the year, including a variety of edible plants - including micro greens and fungi - and various decorative plants.

“"Food is a crucial part of everyday life and, together with Tom Dixon, IKEA wants to inspire and enable a healthier and sustainable lifestyle. Chelsea Flower Show is a first step in our collaboration, where we hope to challenge the way society looks at growing and addressing that it’s both possible and rewarding to grow your plants in the city. The next step is to develop a series of products on urban growing"

James Futcher, Creative Leader, IKEA Range and Supply 

Specifically designed for the Chelsea Flower Show, which ran from 21 to 25 May 2019, the installation Gardening Will Save The World will now be shown in the Participatory City Foundation, in Barking and Dagenham, upholding the objective of alerting and educating the community about the importance of growing our own food.

Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon, designs, develops and commercialises extraordinary objects and spaces for everyday use. The most recent chapter in Tom Dixon's design journey began in 2002 when he abandoned his corporate career to create his own brand - as a platform for a series of new adventures in product design and interior design. After 17 years, Tom Dixon is currently a widely recognised global force in the field of interior design with hubs in New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Tokyo. His studio (Research Design Studio) specialises in interior design, in particular furniture, lighting and accessories.

His 600 products range from lighting to furniture, from tableware to fragrance and are distributed in over 65 countries: they are instantly recognisable for their sculptural qualities and engineered materiality.


Founded in Sweden in 1943, IKEA offers a wide range of well-designed and functional household items at affordable prices.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Exhibits avant-garde design, new plants and garden ideas. The largest and most prestigious flower exhibition in Britain has been held in the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London every year since 1913, only interrupted during the two World Wars.


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