MASS

A series of rocklike textured shelves, tables and lights with a cork terrazzo finish. Handmade with a new technique developed by Odd Matter Studio that explores the use of cork as an aggregate material and high quality hard plaster as a binder. Combining the soft and light nature of cork with the rigidity and strength of gypsum.
The first pieces were made and developed at the Villa Noailles during the residency that followed winning the ‘Varois cork special award’ at Design Parade 10 2015. They are made for use as the shop interior of the Villa during Design Parade 11 and reflect the shapes, textures and colours of the surroundings they were made in. The residency consisted out of several visits to the area and focussed on cork from the Var region in the south of France.

Cork is the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber). Cork oak forests are found in the Mediterranean region and have been the only source of cork for thousands of years. These forests are a natural barrier against desertification, home to many indigenous species and the largest CO2 reduction system of Europe. Only the bark of the tree is harvested, this is done every 7 to 14 years and when done well leaves the tree unharmed. Moreover regular harvests prolong the lifespan of a cork oak from 75 years up to 250 years. Cork as a material has been used for thousands of years and has many qualities. This use of cork is what creates the demand necessary to maintain the forests.
Traditionally the foremost use for cork has been in bottle stoppers (approximately 80% of the total production) but since the introduction of the screw-top wine bottle and developments in synthetic replacements the demand for cork has been in decline. This has been the case everywhere but unlike for instance Portugal, where the cork industry has to some degree managed to adapt, the industry in the Var region has nearly disappeared. And with that the knowledge of maintaining the forest and the skill of harvesting the trees are disappearing as well.

During their residency Odd Matter explored many different uses for the versatile material. Ranging from high tech to decorative to anti bacterial. Though as cork is a natural and therefor not standardized material a certain amount of industrial processes is needed. As these are not available in the region the pair decided to create a technique fitting to the area that relies only on basic local resources. The resulting process created for the Mass pieces is completely freehand, using only cork granules, plaster and a few basic tools.

The cork granules itself are an inherent part of the basic cork harvest and drying process. All cork that is not sold whole or is the waste from the bit of bottle stopper production there is gets granulated.
For Mass two sizes of granules are added to the plaster which is then cast onto a smooth surface. By mixing the cork with the plaster the granules enhance the plasters qualities by increasing its volume, reducing the weight and introducing structure and elasticity. Becoming a lightweight aggregate material. By using different sizes of granules a great level of structure and texture is made. Once casted the cork itself is not apparent at first but by sanding back the flat surfaces the cork granules are revealed. Creating a terrazzo like surface and giving another dimension to the pieces. Contrasting the rocklike rough texture with a smooth and vivid graphic surface.