Ariel Adair shows off one of several walls decorated with cork for a green alternative to noise. Photo: SALLY HOGARTY

Put a Cork In It at Piccolo Napoli

Staff Writer, The Orinda News

There are 2,790 corks on the walls of Piccolo Napoli restaurant, but 12,000 more are needed for their Put a Cork In It project.

Peter Eberle figures it takes about 90 corks to cover one square foot. They’ve covered 31 square feet so far and have 130 square feet more to go.

Their purpose is to dampen the echo in the restaurant. Eberle and his team looked at samples of common sound-absorbing materials and found them to be expensive and made of plastic and foam.

The idea for cork as a sound absorber grew out of the desire for an affordable green alternative. He uses wood glue to affix the corks to a thin wood sheet then attaches the sheets to the walls with wood screws.

“We were surprised that so many of our customers had collected lots of corks but didn’t know what to do with them,” says Eberle.

When they started bringing them in, the Put a Cork In It project was born. Cork is a precious resource and many wine producers are now using other tops. Author and biologist Janine Benyus would call what Eberle and his peeps are doing at Piccolo Napoli “bio-utilization,” meaning they are using a natural product to improve the sound quality in their restaurant and are repurposing cork as insulation to reduce the unpleasant echo.

Join the Put a Cork In It project by dropping off corks at Piccolo Napoli, 2 Theatre Square, No. 144, Orinda, 925-253-1225.

Lunch hours are 11:30 am to 5 pm Wednesday-Sunday; dinner hours are 5 pm to 9 pm daily; open Saturday and Sunday until 10 pm.