Sitting Pretty: Cork Furniture Worth Lusting After
Designer Jasper Morrison has previously shown at MoMA and the Centre Pompidou.
Would you want to sit in a chair that resembles the popped cork of your favorite bottle of wine? The British product and furniture designer Jasper Morrison is hoping you will—or that you’ll at least find the concept intriguing. For a new exhibition, Morrison’s first complete series of furniture has been remixed and produced entirely in cork. It sounds a little unusual (and it is), but seeing the beloved designer’s handiwork made over in the spongy, sunburnt material is quite a sight to see.
Known for thinking outside the box, Morrison has built a career on funky silhouettes and idiosyncratic twists and curves. But for this project, the designer was interested in exploring the functional and natural quality of cork wood. Not exactly a material that is known for high-tech industrial design capabilities.
His usual go-to finishes like powder-coated metal and glossy polypropylene took a backseat while Morrison reproduced some of his earliest designs in cork: chairs, stools, bookshelves, and even a fireplace. Seeing some of Morrison’s stark silhouettes done up in a simple material makes the work feel entirely brand new. His sensibility always skewed a bit playful, and the impermeable buoyant material seems to only amplify that quality.
The collection falls in that blurry space where art and design sometimes meet. I’m not sure if I want to stare at his bulbous cork chair from a distance, or just plop down in it with a good book. The work is being shown Kasmin in New York’s Chelsea, a location that certainly adds an aura of artiness to the high-concept series. Showing furniture in the context of Art with a capital ‘A’ is nothing new for Morrison; he designed the furniture for the extension to Tate Modern and his work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art and Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Morrison may be older and wiser at this point in his career (he’s been designing since the 1980s), but hasn’t lost one ounce of the youthful energy that radiates from his designs. While some designers might hurl towards self-seriousness at a later stage in their career, Morrison takes no issue in playing with materials and shapes in unconventional ways. His signature quirk and aesthetic are both as razor-sharp now as when he first started designing furniture whether he’s making chairs that are made of plastic—or in this case, cork.