Designing with Cork
For a Better Tomorrow

We are constantly thinking of design and architecture as a layered collaborative effort. Changing the skylines of cities doesn’t come from one person’s ideas or opinions; it comes from layered inspiration, collaboration through varying perspectives and experiences with a holistic design-forward approach. Sustainability, much like the layers of our projects, also has its own layers which can impact the architecture, design, finishes, furniture, etc. Sustainability comes in many forms with many functions with many more definitions which gives projects great flexibility.

Cork, a very sustainable material, comes from the cork oak tree which is typically found in Mediterranean Europe and North Africa. While a naturally occurring material, it is masterfully harvested by skilled craftsmen. These master craftsmen avoid deforestation by harvesting only the bark of the tree without fully cutting it down.

It takes between nine and twelve years for the bark to grow back thick enough to be harvested again. After harvest, as the trees begin to grow back their bark, they suck up to five times more carbon from the atmosphere. They do this to fuel the photosynthesis that the regrowth requires.

Deforestation threatens the world's biodiversity. Even more immediately, the loss of trees in a widespread area can leave the soil below prone to erosion. Erosion in a mass sense, can have a domino effect on the nearby plants which are left exposed and vulnerable.

Cork is sustainable in so many ways! It's sustainable because of how it occurs naturally, how it is harvested skillfully, and also how cork biodegrades completely back into the Earth. It can be recycled without producing any toxic residues which is yet another plus. This is specifically so important to the A&D community with how much construction waste is produced from renovation projects. Considering the lifecycle of the products being specified on these projects needs to be prioritized as we design for a better tomorrow.

Interested in reading more about designing with cork? Check out this company who recycles cork into shoes! 


On February 3, 2022 IIDA New England held a virtual volunteer summit and embarked on an Equity Diversity Inclusion (“EDI”) conversation. We had a strong turnout and are thankful to have such amazing volunteers who are as passionate as the Board of Directors and the EDI committee is to have these important conversations. You might be wondering how this became a topic for our volunteer summit. Just over a year ago, we formed an EDI committee with two co-chairs and opened opportunities for additional committee volunteers. Once formed, the committee went to work and started digging into who we are, and how the design community engages with people of diverse backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances, and then began identifying opportunities for IIDA to lead positive change and progress. Here are some highlights of what the EDI committee and Board of Directors have done or put in place to get us started:
  • Created an EDI Mission statement
    • IIDA NE = EDI
    • Across all IIDA NE platforms, our EDI Committee is committed to advocating for the promotion and celebration of contributions by design professionals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, disability, and socio-economic status. 
  • We added a new seat / position to the IIDA NE Board of Directors – VP of EDI
  • Our chapter completed a Pulse Survey of our membership and beyond. The data will be used to identify opportunities for growth and specific support.​
  • On November 11, 2021, IIDA HQ shared that the organization’s bylaws were changed to extend voting rights to include associate members. This change is due to our EDI Committee and Board of Directors having conversations with HQ advocating for what we believe in and giving voice to a broader membership community.
  • We have engaged Newton Consultancy for an upcoming ​Anti-Racism Workshop. The goal of the workshop is to give us a better foundation of how we speak and how we act.
  • The EDI Committee Liaison position was created to better support the chapter in our growth together.
There is much work to be done and we need to spread responsibilities throughout the entire chapter. We came together at the volunteer summit and started by having contestation. By starting the conversation, we have gained an understating of how we can come together and better support our community. I’m excited to see what the next year brings as we continue to educate, advocate, and make progress together. And remember: Don’t talk about it, be about it.


Be sure to check in with the IIDA New England calendar for upcoming events (both virtual and in-person) offered in our community. Here's a sneak peek at some upcoming events:

Also, be sure to keep an eye on our IIDA New England job postings, which are updated regularly!


Check out the list of IIDA New England Emerging Leaders Class of 2021!

Do you have an idea that you would like to share with the design community or see highlighted here in The Wire? Send your ideas to [email protected]

Stay tuned for another Sponsor Highlight next month!

Follow IIDA New England on social media and visit our website to keep up with the latest and greatest!