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Interview with Portuguese Sofalca' owner Paulo Estrada

'Celebrating 10 years of sustainable design'

For the sixth time, the Portuguese brand Sofalca showcased their generative cork walls in Paris. They extend the gratitude to all visitors for being part of this journey, celebrating not only design and sustainability but also the 30-year milestone of one of the most important design fairs in Europe. Maison et Objet reinvented itself and opened its doors to new brands and concepts. 'Step by step, we are collecting events, expanding our network, and surprising people with our vision and passion.'

InteriorDaily spoke with the owner Paulo Estrada and asked him about the inspiration, sustainability and designs of Sofalca.

Team photo, from left to right: Toni Grilo, Blackcork's Creative Director; Miguel Estrada, Project Manager; Paulo Estrada, Sofalca's CEO; Ana Marchão, Sales Manager; Le Brimet, Gencork's Creative Director.

What inspired the design philosophy behind Blackcork and Gencork, particularly in transforming expanded cork into contemporary lighting, cork walls with generative design and furniture pieces?
'From Sofalca side, producing expanded cork since 1966, the idea was to make more, (what more ask we ourselves?!) of this expanded cork agglomerate. What can we do more, and better with this product we already know how to produce since 1966? Design was the answer, innovating and improving quality, increasing knowledge and knowing.'

Sustainability is a key focus for both brands. Can you elaborate on the sustainable practices employed in the production of these products, and how they contribute to environmental consciousness?
'Cork as a raw material, is sustainable, renewable and comes again each 9/15 years without cutting and killing trees. The industrial process is 95% self-sufficient energetically, using internal biomass from the cleaning process of the raw material, as fuel. Meaning that our cork blocks are made, only, with cork and water steam, no glue and no ink. Really 100% natural. At the same time we have solar energy to improve the efficiency of the energy consumption.'

With Toni Grilo as the artistic director, how does his vision influence the overall aesthetic and design choices for Blackcork? What role does art play in the brand's identity?
'Toni Grilo is a product designer. When some others found problems in the expanded cork, Toni didn't see "problems ", but saw advantages in a new material that became a super material. So, Toni gave to Sofalca a new way to look and feel, and together we created Blackcork.'

Gencork explores the combination of low-tech cork with high-tech processes. Could you share more about the generative design algorithms and advanced digital fabrication methods used in creating these cork-covering solutions?
'The digital process is one of the most important elements of Gencork's DNA. Adopting computational design strategies, the brand explores algorithmic scripts inspired by nature, as well as mathematics, geometry, and biomimetics, through parametric systems. With this process, it's now possible to produce a huge range of different variations of a pattern, adapting it to any size or form.'

More information:
Sofalca - Paulo Estrada
[email protected]