While opening an Italian bottle of wine that I purchased in Rome last summer, I noticed an intricate design on the cork. I've opened dozens of bottles of wine in the past, but I've never noticed the design of the cork before. Most of the wine that I buy in the supermarket typically uses plastic corks or screw-top lids. (Yes, I know what I've tended to buy is mass-produced.) The designed cork made the bottle of wine even more special because some thought had gone into the printing on the cork.
I now take note of the corks and keep the nicer ones. Some of the corks I have found contain writing on the name or location of the vineyard and others contain tiny drawings of the vineyard.
While browsing the Internet, I noticed that others are fascinated by wine corks too. I've seen pages where people have created everything from birdhouses to chairs to wreaths to chopping boards out of used wine corks.
I like the texture of cork as a design element. The first time I came across cork for uses other than corking bottles (or bulletin boards) was when I went on holiday to Portugal a few years ago. Portugal has a lot of cork trees, and tourist shops sell products made of cork. On that trip to Portugal, I purchased a cork bowl, notebook, coin purse, and postcard. (Yes, I did post the postcard and it arrived at its destination.)
Cork could be used as a design element for marketing products and textures on a website or a brochure; cork is one of those items that has a function but seems to go unnoticed.