Cork and other Green materials at Google Store Chelsea
5 AUGUST 2022 – Cork is considered to be one of the most sustainable building materials. It is made from the bark of Quercus (cork oak) trees, notable for being the only kind of tree whose bark could be safely harvested throughout its 200-year lifetime without harming or killing it. In fact, harvesting the bark—which fully grows every nine years—will allow the tree to absorb more carbon dioxide from the environment.
This sustainable material was used by Google for their first physical retail store in Chelsea, New York City, which opened last year and was recently awarded for its environmental impact. Designed by architecture interior designer firm Reddymade in collaboration with Daniel Michalik, cork furniture served as the heart of the interactive space.
Michalik, who is a furniture designer and professor at the Parsons School of Design, explained that the production of cork allowed fair wages for work. To keep the trees healthy, skilled labourers are trained from generation to generation to harvest the bark by hand without automated machinery.
For retail applications, cork has desirable visual effects. It offered “a blank sheet on which customers can project their ideas, concepts and experiences of the material, interacting in a single space,” Michalik said.
The furniture items created exclusively for the Google Store include sofas, armchairs, bookshelves, chairs, counters, bar stools and coffee tables, combining Portuguese cork with American white oak. The result is a space that is light, versatile, resilient, soft to the touch and fosters interaction.
Other materials in the store have also been carefully considered to be Green. The grey wall veneer is made out of responsibly sourced hickory wood; lighting fixtures are energy efficient; local craftsmen created the cork and wood furniture; and carpeting was manufactured with recycled materials. This approach allowed the store to attain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Sustainable Design) Platinum certification.