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If you’re like us, the only cork in your house is in your wine rack. But the earth-friendly material is starting to pop up in other, less-expected spots: on floors and, thanks to Boulder-based importer and developer of cork home-decor products Sustainable Materials, even on accent walls.
The Boulder company is the exclusive distributor in the United States for Muratto, a European company whose products—which include three-dimensional octagonal tiles in a rainbow of colors; precision-cut, starburst-patterned tiles; and stacked cork “bricks” in earthy tones—evoke a contemporary, effortlessly stylish vibe. So much so that Google has decked out its hip offices around the country with Sustainable Materials-sourced cork, and West Elm recently started carrying a small selection of the tiles.
But cork’s appeal extends beyond mere good looks. The natural material is good for the planet in a way that stone is not: “It’s harvested from trees in the Mediterranean on a nine-year cycle,” explains Pete Nichols, president of Sustainable Materials, which sources its products from Portugal. “You peel back the outer layer of the bark, and the bark regrows. After nine years, you can peel it again; you don’t cut down the tree.” Cork tile is also versatile, says Nichols, who has a background in engineering and geology: “It’s an acoustic insulator, and it has a ton of different aesthetic options to choose from.” Just think of the potential that’s been, well, uncorked.