Hand-carved cork furniture collection evokes the raw beauty of black volcanic stone

More often than not, furniture design is meant to feelings of warmth, comfort, or even joy, emotions that you’d want to experience inside a home, office, or even waiting area. After all, you will be using these pieces of furniture, including sitting on some of them, so it’s only natural to expect them to be more welcoming, at least visually. There are some more artistic designs that have provoking aesthetics, meant more to be seen rather than used. This furniture collection stands somewhere in the middle, projecting an image of dark and unpolished volcanic rocks that turn out to be comfortable, stable, and even charming in its own rough way.

Designer: ( ae ) offices

A volcano is full of ironies. It is both magnificent and terrifying, and its eruptions are equally destructive and mesmerizing. While the ash, lava, and rocks that volcanoes throw out inflict damage, they can also be used as materials to build and create things that have their own unique beauty despite their horrifying source. That’s the kind of juxtaposition that the DOL furniture delivers, providing a unique visual and tactile experience for every chair or table.

DOL takes its inspiration from the black volcanic stones found on Jeju Island in South Korea. These stones are being used as the foundations for different structures on the volcanic island, reusing what Mother Nature has thrown at them to build stronger architecture. The stones themselves have a raw and uneven appearance born of natural elements that give each piece a unique character. That’s the imagery that’s replicated in this low chair and low table, but using a material that’s the complete opposite of hardened volcanic rock.

The furniture uses the outer bark of the cork oak tree, a material that’s best known for being lightweight, impact-absorbing, and insulating. Each “stone” in this composition is crafted by hand, resulting in an equally unique look for each piece. Of course, cork isn’t the most rigid material for furniture, so it’s supplemented by wooden profiles that give it more structure. Layers of wood oil and waxes add the finishing touch that gives the cork a texture and character that will confuse the mind because of its dark roughness yet soft mass.

The use of cork also adds an element of sustainability, as cork bark undergoes a renewal process every nine years and is completely recyclable. It’s a fitting tribute to a stone that starts its life from the destructive explosion of a volcano before finding its way into people’s homes, buildings, and lives before returning to the earth once again to repeat the cycle.