Natural Cork by Gencork

Discover Gencork, a brand by Sofalca, and their cork solutions that explore the perfect symbiosis between low-tech material and high-tech processes

Gencork draws everyone’s attention with each product they design. The brand expresses new aesthetics for cork covering solutions by exploring algorithmic scripts inspired by nature, as well as mathematics, geometry, and biomimetics.
With the use of parametric systems, cork agglomerate can be transformed into numerous potential applications with eye-catching patterns. The Company is a great example of special commitment not only in sustainability but also in innovation.
Get to know Sofalca, GenCork manufacturers, and their beautiful creations through the words of company’s CEO Paulo Estrada.

Tell us about Sofalca. What was the starting point of this family business and how did it evolve throughout time?

Sofalca was started in 1966 by the father and uncles of actual owners, as well as other partners. The Cork business in the Estrada Family started in 1933 by Ernesto, my grandfather.
At present, Sofalca is a company from the Estrada family and there is already a fourth-generation working with cork. The company was developed to produce Insulation Material (ICB - insulation cork board) from a raw material not used for any other purpose, and which exists in big quantities in Abrantes. Located in the centre of Portugal, near river Tejo, it’s the land of birth for the Estrada family, as well as the place where the cork forest begins and expands across the south of Portugal.

What are the unique characteristics of expanded cork and how is this made?

Being 100% natural! We pick up the cork from the forest, break it into tiny granules and clean it so that biomass could be produced. Then, cork is used in the production of water steam with temperature reaching 400ºC. This process will make the cork granules expand in the autoclaves. The hot steam will bring out the natural resin of the cork which, alongside with some compression, will agglomerate everything together transforming it into a block, 100% natural and chocolate colour.

This is, indeed, a 100% natural material, with no additives, no glue or ink. And for this reason, it lives forever. So, as a 100% natural product, it is the best insulation material with unique thermal, acoustic and breathable characteristics, that can be used outdoors and indoors.

With Gencork you created innovative series of wall coverings by combining natural material and digital fabrication methods. Please tell us more about the creative process behind your creations.

The initial idea was to add value to an insulation material, and at the same time to offer a solution to architects, designers, contractors and to the public, the final consumer himself - insulation with design. Not the simple and plain slabs that are commonly seen, but a much more appealing acoustic solution. We looked for, and we found the best creative person – architect Brimet Silva. Together, we developed new ideas, tested the limits of cork and created Gencork. Sofalca needed to improve a Special Design material (SD) to be able to materialize the ideas and to make dreams come true.

We have seen various collaborations with designers, architects, engineers using your material. What new challenges do these partnerships bring?

Know how, experience, challenge, happiness. We never say no. We are always hoping and looking for new challenges.

Each generation explores new perspectives on cork design and its applications. Can you tell us what can be expected from your future projects?

We are prepared and preparing the new generation to continue the mission to transform dreams into reality.

What is your brand’s mission?

To make dreams come true, is my personal wish. For Sofalca, I think it is to dignify the cork as a raw material that only exists if the cork oak forest exists, and that needs to be cherished and valued. Design, in Sofalca's opinion, is the best way forward. Isolate with art, we can say. The future is already now.
Browse the Collection