The Progressive Extension of the Field of Individual Development and Experience installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum is a collaboration between FAT architecture and Amorim, the world’s largest producer of cork. A walkway up in the Medieval galleries has been covered in a series of tiles in a geometric trompe l’oeil pattern inspired by the cellular structure of the cork.
Sean Griffiths, an architect and director of FAT, stressed that cork “really is a 21st century material which is highly sustainable. Using cork has allowed us to work in a very different way, starting with the material as generator of the concept. Cork has a very natural appearance which is supported by an intricate geometric structure and the main idea of the design is to capture the relationship between these aspects of the material. The design also makes use of the strong visual acoustic and tactile qualities of the material.”
I had been striding down the marble floor of the gallery with the clip of my heel ringing out, and then when I stepped on to the installation the cork softened my stride and absorbed all the sound. I wanted to reach down and stroke the smooth surface.
As well as the tactile properties of cork it is also a great thermal insulator, do not absorb dust and are resistant to bacteria and fungi, so an environmentally-friendly flooring for kitchens and bathrooms. Cork floor options are more varied than you might remember from the 70s and 80s! Watch this space for more.