Product feature: Handmade cork leather desk mat
Sep 03, 2020
Elegant, lightweight and smooth to the touch - our handmade desk mat made from 100% sustainable cork leather, provides support and cushioning while you work. So you can lean in, and enjoy that extra bit of comfort.
Many of us are working in a much more flexible way now. Gone are the days of having one fixed desk setup.
Whether you’re in the office, home studio or simply sat at the kitchen table - investing in a desk mat is an easy way of creating a portable yet defined workspace, wherever you choose to base yourself.
It also helps protect your devices or surfaces from getting scratched. And did we mention it feels great?!
We spoke to the BU co-founders Richard Braine and Armine Ansari about their design process, and all things cork leather.
Featured above: Rich and Armine at work in their design studio
What was the idea behind the BU desk mat?
Rich: We wanted to create something that would enhance people’s workspace and make it feel truly unique. As designers, we believe a minimalist desk setup can stimulate creativity and help focus the mind.
I personally love to use it for sketching - it's such a nice surface to lean on and work with.
The mat is manufactured from 100% sustainable cork leather. Can you tell us a bit more about the manufacturing process?
Rich: All of our cork is sourced from Portugal which has the highest grade cork available. It's harvested by carefully removing the bark from the cork oak tree - without damaging the tree.
"I personally love to use it for sketching - it's such a nice surface to lean on and work with."
The bark is then boiled and shaved into really thin sheets. These are then backed onto granulated cork to provide support and structure. The process is non-toxic and uses a food grade binder instead of solvents or formaldehyde.
The result is a really versatile fabric, which is a sustainable alternative to plastic and animal leather.
What do you like about designing with cork leather?
Rich: As it's 100% natural - literally ‘straight from the tree’, cork leather has a really beautiful pattern and texture. I think this works really well with the simplicity of our design.
Cork leather is also a really versatile material, and it's vegan friendly. Not only is it lightweight (50% of cork is air), it's also super soft to the touch and waterproof - so you can easily wipe down any spills. Plus it doesn't absorb dust making it the ideal for people with allergies.
And I love the feel of it. When I'm sketching, it's great to be in contact with a natural material... it makes the whole process more enjoyable.
Armine: The amazing thing about cork is that once the bark has been harvested, the tree then grows it back again.This allows the tree to absorb 10 times more CO2 than one with bark.
The whole process allows for cork trees to be harvested multiple times over their 300 year life, making it a really sustainable material choice for us.
"It's 100% natural - literally straight from the tree."
There’s currently a massive abundance of cork in the world, so utilising it in products - other than wine bottle corks - is very exciting to us.
What do you hope people get from using the desk mat?
Rich: With more and more of us working from home, I think it's important for people to create an environment that promotes wellbeing and makes them feel at ease in their workspace.
Little details like the texture of your work surface and the materials you surround yourself with day-to-day can really help with this.
I also like to think it will help get people’s creative juices flowing, and add a touch of personality to their workspace.
Our cork leather desk mat is available in natural brown, or charcoal black. Browse all products.