THE BARK HOUSE DIFFERENCE
What Differentiates Bark House From All Other Wall Coverings: – E – V – E – R – Y – T – H – I – N – G –
So where would you like to begin?
NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL, Outside and Within™
Bark House® wall coverings hold more sequestered carbon in the built environment than what is produced in all our manufacturing, back to tier one vendors (the beginning of our supply chain). Passes material health standards.
Bark House products are not trying to look like nature – they ARE RAW nature. Nature is what inspired the business processes we follow, how each person who touches the wall coverings is engaged, what benefits are passed on to the community and worldwide clients.
Work of Art / Art of Work
Each Bark House wall covering is a true work of art. They are individually handcrafted to exacting specifications with locally sourced materials. This makes them exceedingly well priced as an exclusive piece of Art.
There is also an art in the way that Bark House employees do their work. Their connection to nature drives their work ethic and manifests a uniquely personal statement into a product.
Our company is built on bark – its material presentation and its essence. We embrace how the bark of the trees in this area reflects the struggle for life that particularly occurs in this place and connects to the world.
“Think of the bark on a tree. When it cannot grow straight, it twists and becomes gnarled – struggling to protect the life underneath in this world. The high ridges, the low valleys, the twists and gnarls, our hand touches the roughness – and the part of us that is vulnerable – and the part of us that is strong -understands. We celebrate the tree standing before us. If this understanding could reach from nature to humanity – then we would love each other and ourselves more fully.” – Chris McCurry
Even the smoothest of our bark products are textured. Their struggle for life is evident their beauty is undeniable.
On the heels of greenwashing, third-party verification became an important instrument to communicate real value to clients. In 2007, B Corp was enlisted for an eleven-year engagement in certification. During that time Bark House was a consecutive recipient of “Best for the World Awards” related to the scores received – marking us in the top 10% of businesses from across the world engaged in Social Equity. In 2018, we found that our methods of community engagement were further upstream from the standards that served as valued instruments for years, and we withdrew from this certification strategy.
BEAUTIFUL, Outside and Within™
Bark House shared this company mantra with the world in 2013. At its core, Bark House is an affair of the heart and an expression of the founders’ love of nature and a desire to share that passion with others. This enabled them to attract a team of dedicated employees that have participated in essential ways to the enrichment and growth of the company. Through the projects that clients incorporate Bark House products in, locals feel connected to the world from this far away land. Clients, in turn, reflect upon their relationship to nature. More obviously it relates to product that is beautiful whether used inside or outside of a building. But the company’s mantra of BEAUTIFUL, Outside and Within (like all of their products and processes) is a unique expression of a shared process and is more than words on a page or a slogan that can be ripped off.
Biophilic Design is in alignment with nature’s presentation and purpose. In other words, it is inspired by nature and her systems. Bark House products and company systems align with the tenets of Biophilic design.
We wrote the book on bark – literally. Bark House Style, Sustainable Designs From Nature was authored by Chris McCurry (Bark House co-owner) and published by Gibbs Smith in 2008.
In 2014, The Bark House was recognized in the Catalyst Program by the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.
We get asked all the time if there are bugs in the bark. Poplar bark has naturally occurring organic compounds called pinene isomers. These isomers actually repel bugs so that the bark can do what it was intended to do – protect the tree underneath. The Bark House proprietary kiln drying process heat treats each piece of the material consistently and to the appropriate temperature for wood sterilization.
On the heels of greenwashing, third-party verification became an important instrument to communicate real value to clients. In 2007, The Bark House enlisted the most rigorous certification strategies on the market to review our whole-systems process. We remained engaged for over eleven years, achieving the highest levels within those strategies. In 2018, We found that our processes and methods were further upstream from the standards that served as valued instruments for years, and in 2018 we withdrew from certification strategies. Clients continue to benefit from what we learned in the process as well as having had a third party verification engagement.
We have the best clients ever. That does not go unsaid and we believe this wholeheartedly. Our clients are attracted to Bark House because they desire a deeper connection to nature. They appreciate the rich aesthetic of the products and they know that we are caring for the environment and the people in it.
Every stakeholder has an active voice that is asked for, heard and utilized as an important part of our business process. What does that mean for the client? First, it means that we have a culture of listening and co-creating. That makes it easier for you to get what you really desire. Second, it means that our company has benefited from learning from those around us, which adds to the quality of your product and shows that we have predicted and solved the problems that you will never have to worry about. We’ve got your back because we reside in a space of higher priority and deeper resonance.
In addition to asking for collaboration on our projects, we aid others in their projects as well. Whether that is a facility of higher education, a community organization or an individual that desires to build their business capacity.
Cradle to Cradle
On the heels of greenwashing, third-party verification became an important instrument to communicate real value to clients. In 2007, The Bark House enlisted a new strategy, Cradle to Cradle product certification which was the most rigorous certification strategy on the market to review our whole-systems process. We remained engaged for over eleven years, achieving the highest level within that system. Bark House exterior poplar wall coverings received the world’s first and only PLATINUM level certification. In 2018, We found that our processes and methods were further upstream from the standards that served as valued instruments for years, and in 2018 we withdrew from certification strategies. Clients continue to benefit from what we learned in the process as well as having had a third party verification engagement.
Defiance is a personality that one takes on when faced with a world that makes no sense. At its best, it can lead to some of the most transformational movements for a culture. The tension of those who are defiant spreads and creates un-ease in a system. It is important to listen when defiance is present. What you do with that moving forward is up to each individual to decide. A pervasive cultural response is to push back against defiance – to shut it down or to disenfranchise the defiant ones. Another option is to listen, understand and work on the issue that is being pointed to by a bravely defiant minority. This place of Appalachia held out a defiance that multiple US Presidents through time have remarked on and have not understood. It is no wonder that our business has defied and re-defined what business can look like as a source to regenerate our world! We are the ones presenting defiance in the face of world systems that make no sense. But what we seek at our core is systems that align with the patterns in nature that we do understand.
We deliver on the promises that we make.
You want to work with a company that understands that you need products to perform as intended so they create efficiencies for your personal energy expenditures. Our products and processes make your work time more efficient. We do what we say, provide support for your goal and deliver when promised.
Essence is the true nature or distinctive character of a being or a thing that both distinguishes it from and connects it to all others. It is a permanent element of a being that lies beneath any other version of misaligned manifestation. It does not occur by accident but is a part of an intentional design.
A shared essence in the relationship with Bark House is a deep appreciation for nature and her systems.
Experience the difference that a manufacturer of original designs with a thirty year history brings to the success of your project.
Did you know that Independently owned business on average put 48% of their income back into the local community and big box stores invest 16%? The Bark House puts between 50% to 70% of its income directly back into the local economy. When loggers sell the waste bark from a tree bound for the sawmill back to us, they can increase their income for that tree two to three fold. We pay a living wage and contribute annual bonuses to employees. Our economy is aimed toward being a regenerative force for this place.
Let us work with you to ensure the wall coverings for your project meet the fire-rating requirements of your area. Our custom fabrication shop has the knowledge and experience to address this issue.
Being first to design and manufacture bark wall coverings means that we learned by doing, not by watching or trying to copy. This exercise taught us about meeting the issues that most said could not be overcome and successfully overcoming them. It strengthened our capacity to stick through the tough spots and it imparted a special aspect of ownership. How does the client benefit from that? We are extremely creative, capable and poised to ensure your success with your projects. In almost 30 years, we have never failed, we’ve had lots of firsts and we have supported clients to be first in their field of expertise.
Five Point Quality Control
The proprietary five point quality control program instituted exclusively at The Bark House ensures precision in manufacturing.
Bark House® trains small 2- 3 person logging crews to properly and ethically harvest waste wood products so that forests regenerate faster.
In 2009, FSC, SFI and PEFC third party, forest product chain-of-custody was engaged by The Bark House. The purpose was to voluntarily add a layer of regulation with real value to our clients to an otherwise unregulated niche bark procurement industry. Because The Bark House was the original manufacturer of bark wall coverings, we wanted to implement methods that communicated the highest standards of procurement and handling for the RAW™ (link to RAW) material. Although FSC, SFI and PEFC strategies were disengaged in 2015, we continue to ensure that the materials that we purchase are properly handled, ethically sourced and manufactured today.
A sticky subject and a necessary one in some, but not all Bark House wall coverings. We offer several glue options to service your needs that include hide-free or low-hide glues and substrates.
The Bark House process has proven that product making can support the physical, psychological, financial and spiritual health of people; it can also support the health of the environment. Because place is a living system, the elements of it should never consider “optimized” as so many strategies propose. The Bark House strategy engages us in a way where we are always growing and responding to the health of the total environment. Our products earned the most rigorous healthy material certification in the market – and we did not stop there.
Honesty in Materials
Honesty in materials is expressed when a material reflects its original source, is used where and how it most appropriately reflects its true nature, and is a source of inspiration for that which a project reaches to become. In other words, Bark House products and processes.
You can rely on Bark House products to remain fresh and relevant. This is because we have 30 years of experience in innovating new products, application techniques and processes that support designers with authentic and cutting-edge products.
Integrity and authenticity are essential to who we are and comes before all else.
Like children’s’ play, full of laughter and delight – design can be full of joy, wonder and new discovery. Let us help you discover the joy of Bark House products and processes.
Founder and product designer, Marty McCurry, created the proprietary kiln drying process that is utilized exclusively at The Bark House for drying bark materials to exacting specifications. He designed and built all the kilns at The Bark House to specifically dry bark for our product making.
The best leaders inspire and support others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose born from the essence of place. Regenerative leaders seek first to understand, moving from patterns to detail, integrating step by step as we manage constraints and resources, dissolve the idea of waste and redefine yield while paying particular attention to what’s happening in the margins, at the edges and intersections of a multitude of diverse things all at once so we can creatively use and respond to change. This is supported by systems thinking.
Teams engaged in these systems outgrow their leaders and regenerate on their own, continuing to evolve and grow long after those leaders have moved on. This is what we are aspiring to at The Bark House as leaders.
Bark House® Poplar Bark Shingles and Panels can last up to eighty years on an exterior application when properly handled after shipping and installed following Bark House installation guides. More lasting is the relationships we grow and the legacy we are creating.
Many bark House clients want to create a strong legacy statement with their projects. This might include an international brand ensuring that their supply chain meets rigorous quality sourcing and manufacturing standards or it could be a homeowner with the desire to build lasting beauty and value. We understand the importance of leaving a lasting legacy.
Because clients are compelled to touch Bark House wall coverings and then are touched by them in a deeply personal way; because our products support the essential growth of living systems – they are Living Products.
Bark House Poplar Bark Shingles and Panels are a maintenance free siding product for the exterior of buildings. The bark goes through several beautiful color evolutions as it adjusts to its new environment on your building.
Ninety percent of the raw bark material for Bark House products is sourced within a one hundred mile radius. It is derived from Reclaimed Appalachian Wood Waste – what we termed RAW – using proprietary methods developed by company founder, Marty McCurry, that support the regeneration of forests. Marty also taught loggers the best management methods he had developed for the procurement of bark, and helped loggers to modify their workflow to increase their profitability. This increased the potential income for one tree already bound for the sawmill by two to three times. Additionally, if a substrate is used in the manufacturing of a wall panel, those are US-sourced with preference given to North Carolina products. This is so that we can directly monitor the impacts and be accountable for our manufacturing practices.
Maturity is not ensured through experience alone. People can do the same old thing over and over expecting different results. This type of experience actually stifles maturity. The Bark House views maturity as a function of ego growth in conjunction with true grounded-ness while addressing the skill of discernment through creativity. We are constantly working to grow ourselves to better predict and serve your needs.
With over 250 prominent placements (link to As Seen In) in media outlets including blogs, magazines and a book, The Bark House is the proven leader in Whole-Building.
We chose nature but we honestly believe that she also chose us. Nature is the inspiration for everything we make and do at Bark House. We attract others who share a love for or are looking for a connection to nature. We welcome the opportunity to share a journey of exploration with you about what that means.
Nature in Design – People crave connection to the natural world, even when divided from it. By calling architects and designers to make nature and essence visible, as The Regenesis Group requests in Regenerative Development and Design, buildings and developments can be re-grounded in their own unique place. In this way, product makers and designers can revive an awareness of the natural systems that affect us and recover place-based knowledge and unique vitality. The advantages of interacting with and seeing nature are numerous. Beyond technical benefits, feeling the presence of the living world around us elevates the spirit. Supporting this movement, contributors to the built environment are inventively finding ways to reconnect people with the touch and feel of our wider biological community.
It is our team that organizes us – literally and philosophically. Clients benefit because the Bark House Whole-Systems approach ensures that your needs are our top priorities and that we are prepared to handle them efficiently, with an aim to exceed your expectations.
Bark House is the original manufacturer of bark wall coverings and Marty McCurry is the original designer. Chris McCurry is the original designer of Whole-Building. The client benefits from this because being the original designer and manufacturer of bark wall coverings means that we learned by doing, not by watching or trying to copy. This exercise taught us about meeting the issues that most said could not be overcome and successfully overcoming them. It strengthened our capacity to stick through the tough spots and it imparted a special aspect of ownership. We are extremely creative, capable and poised to ensure your success with your projects. In almost 30 years, we have never failed, we’ve had lots of firsts and we have supported clients to be first in their field of expertise.
Place relates to both a physical environment and the people who live there. The Regenesis Group notes that it is one of the few words in the English language that holds these two elements in context. They encourage a regenerative practitioner to assess, “where is here, how large is it how it works and what kind of here is this?” Our place is The Bark House in the Appalachian region. In searching for the essence of our place, we gather data and see what others who have held community charrettes with an attempt to identify our core values have missed. When told by the locals that “we are best when we’re against it,” facilitators have no point of reference to understand what that means and what value it holds. They have not expanded their historical context of the area broad enough to appreciate this. In this time we have taken on a persona as The Defiant Ones. A mix of pioneers and native peoples, sometimes exploited and exposed to world values that never made sense to us. We did not know that we were poor until powerful entities from outside told us we were, and even then we knew better. The life underneath called to us that there was a natural cycle that progressive humans of the time were not capable of seeing. We were called “backward” and “obstinate” by the highest office in this land – the US President, supported by an energized media who proclaimed that we could derail anything. The world changed during the Industrial Revolution and all of human life leapt ahead with competitive fervor, leaving behind the natural systems that we knew – the ones of gentle flow and cooperation. Industry marched in with exploitive intent. In such a world, how were a giving people of creative spirit to survive? We twisted ourselves like the bark on the tree growing to protect the life underneath. Today, we are a defiant place – holding out the last hope for regeneration.
Architectural PROJECTS and our relationships are what connect the Bark House in the remote Appalachian region to the rest of the world. We celebrate the designer’s work by sharing it with our employees, vendors and community. We further connect these projects to a larger audience by gaining placement with acclaimed media outlets. Projects give shape and promote growth in our work. We deeply appreciate when you share your project goals and realized designs with us. We love to see how the essence of this region has been interpreted and appreciated in your work. We share a gentle pride in your accomplishments.
Our price may be higher than other wall coverings that you may be comparing to. We do not apologize for this. 100% of our products are from USA sourced materials with impacts that are accounted for. They are handcrafted to exacting specifications. Bark House quality and service are unparalleled. Our operations are regenerative for the environment, people and the economy. The price you pay is aligned with the value you receive.
Quality is the first word and last job at the Bark House. It is simply and inextricably a way of life.
Quiet, reflective, calm, centered, grounded, creative… alive. These are some of the states of being and becoming that Bark House wall coverings elicit.
Ninety percent of the raw bark material for Bark House products is sourced within a one hundred mile radius. It is derived from Reclaimed Appalachian Wood Waste – what we termed RAW – using proprietary methods developed by company founder, Marty McCurry, that supports the regeneration of forests. Marty also taught loggers the methods he had developed and helped them to modify their workflow to increase their profitability. This increased the potential income for one tree already bound for the sawmill by two to three times.
Recycled / Reclaimed
A product, a business, a built project or a development can be regenerative as a single element or working together. But what does regenerative mean for the built environment and how does that relate to the larger ecosystem? First, no one element can be regenerative if it does not occur in the context of an ecosystem. That is an important first distinction of what it is to be regenerative. Regenerative design does more than take sustainability to the next level, it redefines the scope of a work process, how it functions and the core purpose of design. As Regenesis Group notes, “Regenerative Design transforms how humans inhabit the earth.” Regenerative designs enact a process in which human systems co-operate with nature and the interaction results in improvement for both.
The Bark House has invested 28 years into researching and developing the products and processes that the brand represents. We encourage potential clients to learn more about this and we’ve worked hard to make that process easy.
Clients are attracted to The Bark House for a host of reasons. But they keep coming back because they can rely on our products and our processes that make their lives easier and more enjoyable.
In the Design-World, you must remain relevant. Our book and over 250 features in well-placed media outlets are all yesterday’s news. Being relevant means that you are not just regurgitating the news of the day, but you are aligned with what is next. Through whole systems thinking, The Bark House team is very often capable of seeing what is coming next because we have worked diligently on context and relationship. No one can argue that the Bark House is a business and brand that is ahead of its time, and truly timeless.
Bark House® wall coverings biodegrade cleanly at end of life to build clean soil versus oceans of plastic. Exterior products last for decades and require no paints, stains or sealers (maintenance-free).
Solar panels located on the company campus generate enough energy to offset all direct manufacturing energy.
Systems thinking is a whole-approach to engagement that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent elements interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. The systems thinking approach contrasts with traditional analysis, which studies systems by breaking them down into separate parts. Systems thinking can be used in any area of research and has been applied to economic, educational, environmental, healthcare and political systems, among many others. It is the basis for how The Bark House views context.
Sustainable Business Practices and Certifications
Business practices through the years have changed. Extractive business began not caring about basic environmental and human health needs and are today only focused on meeting regulated standards. Green businesses wanted to do better but did not have a set of guiding principles to direct or measure their impacts. Sustainable businesses established set standards with the goal to do no harm to people and the planet. Regenerative businesses are engaged in a process of supporting the growth that is specific and essential to their particular place. After earning the world’s first and only Cradle to Cradle PLATINUM Certification and B Corp Best For The World Awards, we chose to drop our Cradle to Cradle and B Corp Certifications this year as we believe our Whole-Building engagement is a regenerative, living model and reaches beyond static sustainability standards and processes.
Truth in Materials and Process
See Material Honesty. “Truth in materials” establishes a philosophical context of alignment that compels The Bark House to honor TRUTH as a basis for human interaction and system growth.
Teams engaged in these whole-systems outgrow their leaders and regenerate on their own, continuing to evolve and grow long after those leaders have moved on. These teams then inspire and support others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose born from the essence of place. Regenerative process seeks first to understand, moving from patterns to detail, integrating step by step as we manage constraints and resources, dissolve the idea of waste and redefine yield while paying particular attention to what’s happening in the margins, at the edges and intersections of a multitude of diverse things all at once so we can creatively use and respond to change. This is what we are aspiring to at The Bark House as a team. Bark House employees are a core element of our team which is also comprised of vendors, our community and our clients.
Across the country, the theft of forest materials is an issue that The Bark House takes a firm stance against through policy standards, material chain of custody procedures and enforcement intervention. We are meticulous in the way that we document and verify the sources of materials that we receive from vendors. The methods that we teach do not in any way support this practice and further, we actively condemn it. We would not hesitate to involve authorities to review internal documentation if any question of impropriety exists. The Bark House is completely committed to regenerative design, forestry and business practices.
Transparent is defined as allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen. We invite you to travel to our manufacturing facility and join a student or community tour to see for yourself what makes us distinctly different.
Nothing compares to the natural 3-D texture of Bark House Wall Coverings. Touch them and you too will see what we mean.
In Design, being unique is a highly valued attribute. Each and every Bark House wall covering is different from any other because nature created it. It expresses the weather and soil conditions that nurtured or challenged its growth. Color and texture variances are unlimited.
Our commitment to the regenerative growth of our clients, our products, our team and our community is unwavering.
Your values determine your actions and although they do not have to make sense to anyone else, they connect you to a vast network of people, meanings and events through time. The mere act of holding a value provides a context to begin to understand how systems thinking works. Bark House provides a depth of value that a lot of people do not understand. We don’t have to do things the way we do but we do it because we value Whole-Building. And because we have put so much into this, we deeply value the people who engage with us in this conversation at whatever point they are in the process of appreciating or reconnecting to nature. Our products have firsthand value (such as maintenance free, exacting specifications, healthy) and our processes add value in an infinite way through regenerative growth.
Employees at The Bark House engage in a multitude of community volunteer projects that support the development of our area. Leading the process to build the Main Street Central Park is the most notable of these.
The role of Bark House enlivens the potential of a waste-free environment. People are honored with work that is culturally fitted to place; products are made cleanly, last for decades and biodegrade to build clean soil at end of life; manufacturing processes are aligned with Whole-Building to build whole-communities.
Bark House® wall coverings use no water in their direct manufacturing. Watersheds (where we operate) are healthy. Streambank restoration and water cleaning initiatives are a part of our volunteer work.
The Bark House process has proven that product making can support the physical, psychological, financial and spiritual health of people; it can also support the health of the environment and place – and because these are living systems – should never consider itself as optimized, but always growing and responding to the health of its total environment. Our products earned the most rigorous healthy material certification in the market – and we did not stop there.
Whole-Building is the practice of engaging human systems co-operatively with nature. This interaction is designed to result in a continued improvement for both, building whole-communities.
Whole-Building is a whole-systems approach with a specific intent to work within the built environment. Actions occur in the context of the larger eco-system of a specific place. Whole-Building seeks first to understand, moving from patterns to detail. It integrates levels of complexity as we manage resources, dissolve the idea of waste and redefine yield. We pay particular attention to what’s happening in the margins, at the edges and intersections of a multitude of diverse things all at once so we can creatively use and respond to change. It uniquely acknowledges that a product, a business, a built project and a development ALL play key roles in regenerative development. These roles that may have equally important independent or intertwined goals. The Bark House Legacy is an example of Whole-Building. The company’s approach responds to this important question: “How can Bark House Wall Coverings support the essential capacity of everyone that touches them to participate in communal, economic and environmental enrichment?” The Bark House identifies beauty in nature that others have not discovered and employs a larger process of Whole-Building to bring that to the design community in support of regenerative design and development. Click here to view the nine principles of whole-building.
"Quality is not a goal here… It’s a way of life."