Interview with Melanie Abrantes

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Interview with Melanie Abrantes

I’m falling in love with cork

APCOR – When did you decide to use cork in your work and why?
I decided to work with cork when I was in college at Otis College of Art and Design. I was traveling to and from Portugal during the summer to visit family and was able to see all the different things you could work with cork that I didn’t previously think was possible. For me, cork is tied to my heritage and I am proud to work with a material that has so much meaning for the country of Portugal. Lastly, in this day and age, material sustainability has become a very important element of design. Cork passes with flying colours.

What are the main characteristics that you can appoint to cork as a raw material?
It is light in weight, tactile to touch and has beautiful earthy colour tone.

As a handcrafted designer do you think that people are more sensitive to objects made with hands?
Yes, I think consumers can immediately tell the difference when they see something lovingly made by hand versus with a machine. Handcrafted products bring out the unique details of each product, giving it a personality that is lost when items are mass-produced.

What kind of objects we may find in your collection made with cork?
You can find all kinds of goods for the home. I have cork planters, cutting boards, candle holders and vases.

We can find your products with cork from 25$ to 715$. Is the market available to buy these products?
Yes, there is a healthy market for my products. My customers’ value high-quality hand crafted objects. When they purchase my product they are not only buying the individual but they are buying the story and mission behind it.

Do you think that cork is a premium material and capable to capture the most famous designers?
Designers are becoming very interested in cork as a material. I am seeing it in a range of new products areas, from those produced at larger companies like Ikea to those handcrafted by smaller designers like myself. I think people are beginning to understand what cork is and how to use it. Part of what I do is getting this word out! Soon, I believe designers will begin using cork the same way people use other natural materials like wood, metal, and stone.

Although your experience in the cork world is very recent, can you describe in few words your thoughts?
I’ve fallen in love with the material. I was blown away during my trip to Portugal this past October learning about the cork industry. I gained so much knowledge on the importance of the Cork Oak Forests and its effect on Portugal’s environment. I also was very impressed by how thoughtful factories and manufacturers were with the cork as a raw material. From collecting the cork dust to create energy to using the leftover from the stoppers to create blocks, flooring and insulation. It was truly a “green” business, changing my perspective on the blocks that I purchase on a regular basis. I have a lot of ideas for new product designs involving cork that I’m super excited about, so stay tuned!

About Melanie Abrantes Designs

Melanie Abrantes Designs is a Bay Area-based producer of handcrafted, heirloom objects. Founder Melanie Abrantes believes that in order to create something beautiful, you have to get your hands dirty. She founded her company in 2013 when she realized there was a growing American market for handmade goods. Working with a variety of unique materials, Melanie strives to create products of the highest quality that are equally beautiful and functional. Through the technique of lathing, she turns simple pieces of solid wood and cork into one-of-a-kind bowls, plates, cups and stands. Her passion for woodworking originates from the simple fact that every piece is unique as the material it is made from. Time in the studio is dedicated to researching, testing and adapting the product to its user, resulting in a simple, yet unique object of the highest quality. Moving forward, Melanie plans to broaden her line to include furniture and lighting, maintaining her dedication to handmade.

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