Cork is a versatile material that isn’t limited to wine bottle stoppers and wedged shoes. As an emergent alternative to conventional materials used by furniture makers, cork is both stylish and eco-friendly. At last week’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, designer Erika Cross showed off an innovative new use for cork with her Vertebral Cork Chair, which is made from leftover waste from the bottle stopper industry.

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The Vertebral Chair has great texture that adds an earthy accent to any room. Its flexible cork seat is set over a simple steel structure that acts as a spinal element and provides support. The mix of clean lines and warm and tactile qualities of cork fits perfectly with sustainable design principles and contemporary design aesthetics.

Natural, versatile and eco-friendly, cork has unique properties such as flexibility and water resistance. It is fully renewable, biodegradable, and naturally hypo-allergenic. Cork comes from the bark of a special oak tree; during the harvesting process cork trees are relieved of their outer bark every nine years with no harm done to the tree. Cork is harvested in a steady cycle that promotes healthy growth for the tree over its expected 200-year lifespan.

+ Erika Cross