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Metamorphosis

A pioneering project developed by experimentadesign in partnership with Amorim, based on the unique properties of cork Case Studies

The project name (METAMORPHOSIS) served as the theme for the exhibition of the work developed, held at the iconic Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon.

This research and design job was carried out by a group of highly regarded professionals of the design and international architecture areas, who were given full creative freedom as well as all the necessary support.

“Working a material where waste does not exist, because it is fully recyclable, allows us to design freely and gives us the freedom to explore different geometries.”

Amanda Levete, British-born architect

Main Goal

The main goal of this body of work is to demonstrate the versatility and potential of a material with centuries of history - cork - which is still used today in different areas because of its technical characteristics. Cork can simultaneously be light, strong, waterproof, an excellent insulator (thermal and acoustic) as well as a sustainable and environmentally friendly material. The aim was to broaden horizons and test the limits of cork, and to explore its capacity of transformation using the consolidated knowledge of various artists.

Jasper Morrison, British product designer

Cork is a material which is certainly worthy of attention in design. Its appeal lies in the combination of its old-world appeal and new-world technical capabilities.

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Jasper Morrison, British product designer

Cork is a material which is certainly worthy of attention in design. Its appeal lies in the combination of its old-world appeal and new-world technical capabilities.

Solution

The items of the METAMORPHOSIS exhibition, developed by a group of naturally talented persons, open up a new range of products and applications. The invited professionals joined their technical vision with artistic sensibility and the knowledge they have of the market, creating solutions where cork intersects with various materials: concrete, metal, rubber and even the elements of nature itself. Each of these "ingredients" also has different chemical properties.

Synergies have been created that optimise the natural facets and enhance the applicability. The focus made on the symbiosis of materials then allowed each of them to be explored, giving the final product the distinctive main features of each which results in knowledge and innovation.

This series of unique works, through the use of cork in very different ways, allowed it to be demonstrated that the combination of this material with other components is a simple, accessible, effective and profitable process. Thus, the high technical performance of cork and also its extensive universe of applications becomes evident.

Álvaro Siza, Portuguese architect winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1992

"The advantages of working with cork as a raw material in this project are fully evident if we consider the temperature, lightness and flexibility that the bench will have, which is reflected in comfort at various levels."

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Álvaro Siza, Portuguese architect winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1992

"The advantages of working with cork as a raw material in this project are fully evident if we consider the temperature, lightness and flexibility that the bench will have, which is reflected in comfort at various levels."

“Cork was always part of everyone’s daily life: only cut into the form of stoppers; processed into insulation panels; made into material to line countless objects. What I considered most appealing was looking for something in cork that is normally overlooked during production phases, a new value.”

Manuel Aires Mateus, Portuguese architect

Eduardo Souto Moura, Prémio Pritzker 2011

"There is a world, unknown to me, which is the one of mixtures, combinations. But with cork, I think that there can be mixtures, as long as there is research, associating it with harder and more durable materials, which lend the natural material added value."

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Eduardo Souto Moura, Prémio Pritzker 2011

"There is a world, unknown to me, which is the one of mixtures, combinations. But with cork, I think that there can be mixtures, as long as there is research, associating it with harder and more durable materials, which lend the natural material added value."

The METAMORPHOSIS project brings together ten professionals from the fields of world design and architecture.

Three of those invited are even winners of the Pritzker Prize: Álvaro Siza (Portugal), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal) and Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland). Also challenged to present different approaches to the application of cork, in addition to these, were the renowned architects Alejandro Aravena (Chile), Amanda Levete (England), João Luís Carrilho da Graça (Portugal) and Manuel Aires Mateus (Portugal), as well as three notable product designers: James Irvine (England), Jasper Morrison (England) and Naoto Fukasawa (Japan).

The result of this work was a collection consisting of ten interpretations, giving rise to twelve distinct works. They ranged from items for decoration and domestic use, to a work in the footwear industry area, a collection of handles for doors, culminating in the design of blocks for the construction industry made of cork mixed with concrete. The range of the works is evidence of the versatility of this raw material.

Besides those mentioned above, also on show were unique pieces made of cork, which arouse public interest precisely for their unpredictable nature, for example a "zen retreat" to contemplate nature or even the representation of the Hamburg Philharmonic carved in great detail. Thus, in the perspective of Amorim Cork Composites, the METAMORPHOSIS project guaranteed the application of part of the range of products (such as the composites agglomerates of different densities, the cork panels and blocks), giving them a new physical form and hence a new application.

The products provided by Amorim Cork Composites are granulated and agglomerated cork, with different geometric shapes.

“This exhibition of works by renowned architects and designers highlights the huge potential of cork, a product that Portugal is the world leader.”

Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of the Portuguese Republic at the time (2013)

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