An intercultural family venture – Est. 1999

Cutting-edge finishes on ancient biomaterials.

The Ugandan-German family venture BARK CLOTH is pioneer of systematic bark cloth development and production, dedicated to the continuing cooperation with small-scale organic farmers from Uganda – since 9.9.1999.

The Barongo-Heintz family plucked up courage and went on their way to giving more functionality to the Cloth from Trees through state-of-the-art, but socio-economically and infrastructurally adjusted processes: Bark Cloth goes BARKTEX®. New, worldwide unique textiles and fiber composites are constantly developed and produced in our manufactories in Uganda and Germany – usually in low energy, partly CO2-emission-free processes. In uniting Africa’s sumptuous skills, ornamental arts and improvisational ability with innovative finishes, European functionality and a pinch of Zen, it becomes a global material.

Founders and owners Mary Barongo and Oliver Heintz.

Hand in hand with well known universities and research institutions, such as Design Academy Eindhoven, London Metropolitan University, Parsons New York, NASA, ESDI Rio de Janeiro, Fraunhofer, Steinbeis or the German Aerospace Center, the intercultural and interdisciplinary material engineering opens to date unexpected ways in for designers, developers, architects, artists and visionaries and make BARK CLOTH the innovation and market leader for biomaterials based on tree bark.

The former development partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and its implementation organization GIZ provides now hundreds of craftswomen and farmer families with a secure income by far above usual local standards.

Meanwhile, BARK CLOTH is also cooperating with farmers and artisan groups in Brazil, PNG and Honduras, sourcing renewable semi-finished fiber goods for architectural uses and design products. In the global village, the small BARK CLOTH group practices continuously successfully value-adding against the tide. We invest explicitly, where commonly investments are considered as risky, but manageable for us due to strong (familiar) ties in the production areas.

Tree bark fleece from Uganda

The most ancient textile of mankind and UNESCO World Cultural heritage

Tree bark fleece from Uganda is said to be the most ancient textile in the history of humanity. Until the end of the 19th century, the most precious bark cloths were exclusively reserved for the monarchs of the nearly millennial kingdom of Buganda. In 2005, UNESCO declared the artisan production process of bark cloth a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage”, followed by its admission to the list of Immaterial World Cultural Heritage in 2008.

The permanently renewable bark of the East African „Mutuba“ fig tree is harvested every year without felling the tree. It is the basis for a wide range of textiles and composites, which are manufactured in low-energy, partly CO2-emission-free-processes. They are distributed under the brand name of BARKTEX®.

According to an African myth, man came to take possession of the earth through the Mutuba tree. Modern archeology verifies Africa as cradle of mankind. And every connoisseur, who ever held a piece of bark cloth in his hand, understands the heart of this myth: the close symbiosis between man and bark as a grown, age-old relationship.

Discover a unique material

Each piece is an exquisitely handcrafted individual, telling you its own story

Designers and architects value the expressive character, unique texture and sensual tactility of the bark cloth tree bark fleece. Depending on lighting conditions, angle of viewing, finishing, and temperament of its producer the soft, moldable cloth changes from the supple, but robust charm of leather to the translucent and graceful lightness of filmy fleeces.

“The allure of this exceptional material comes from its inimitable structure and the fascinating game played between ancient authenticity and state-of-the-art finishes and uses… It is ideal to serve for products and architectural projects where individuality plays a central role.”

Humberto Campana

Pure and real, thousands of years old, though ahead of its time, it concentrates style and design down to the bare essentials. For whichever application, you are sure to use a unique masterpiece.