The co-founder of the famous architectural office Herzog & de Meuron about the development of Corker
Photo: © Diana Pfammatter
Ranging from the Tate Gallery of Modern Art in London, the M+ Museum for Visual Culture in Hong Kong or the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), to the Allianz Arena in Munich or the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg: the renowned architectural office Herzog & de Meuron has made a name for itself with its international and often sensational projects. Corker originated from the design of London Serpentine Gallery’s temporary summer pavilion. It is the first product designed by the collective that was added to the ClassiCon collection and has now entered into serial production. Jacques Herzog, one of the two founders and name donor of the office, tells us more about the Corker’s development in the interview below.
How did the idea for Corker evolve? Was it during the planning process for the Serpentine pavilion or independent from it?
"The idea for Corker evolved during the work on the Serpentine pavilion. Entirely natural and almost naïve. Like most of our furniture and lamp designs, it was not created as a sophisticated industrial design object resulting from a professional approach. Since we were working with cork and wanted to have a stool for the pavilion’s furnishing that would be as flexible as possible, taking the form of a cork as a model seemed obvious. Everyone knows this form, everyone has opened a bottle of wine and held one of the small, stout corks in their hand. So, you could almost understand the Corker as a pop object because it directly results from enlarging an object that exists in our everyday culture, without any notable sculptural transformation."
Why was the decision made in favour of cork?
"The material needed to be easy to mill in order to create the complex forms that could be read in the overlapping of all earlier pavilions. Plastic? Wood? No, cork! It is formable, recyclable and has wonderful tactile properties. This was an important argument, especially for the stool."
Which characteristics would you personally assign to Corker?
"The tactile characteristics of cork seduce people to touch the material and to enjoy sitting on it. It is warm and soft, yet you do not sink into it as you would with a cushion. It is easy to keep the pelvis in an upright position and you can therefore sit in a comfortable and healthy position."
Where do you envision your product being seen / used in the future?
"It will fit in anywhere. I say this from my own experience. I have put the Corker in entirely different places, and it fits into any room and matches all the other furniture. I also like to use it at the dining table if there is a chair missing or several guests need to be seated. "
Jacques Herzog / Herzog & de Meuron, January 2022
The concept of the 12th Serpentine Pavilion by Herzog and de Meuron was based on the old foundations and remaining fragments of the eleven earlier pavilions. In the style of an archaeological excavation site, these were uncovered and old ground plans were superimposed and reconstructed. They created an unmistakable landscape, covered with cork, which invited visitors to sit, stand, lie down or simply look and marvel.
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