‘Out of the Woods’ will go on display during the London Design Festival 2012
THE American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, has collaborated with product design students at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London to produce and exhibit chairs during the London Design Festival 2012. The exhibition has been titled ‘Out of the Woods’ and is set to go on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum during the London Design Festival (LDF), which will run from September 14 to 23, 2012.
AHEC’s decision to partner with the London Design Festival follows the hugely successful ‘Timber Wave’ installation at the LDF last year and is reflective of AHEC’s continuing commitment to educate, increase awareness and promote the environmental credentials of American hardwoods, according to a spokesman for AHEC.
Under the leadership of tutors Sebastian Wrong and Harry Richardson, the students have been set the challenge to design a functional chair or seat in an American hardwood of their choice. The designs will then be developed into working prototypes with the help of Benchmark, internationally renowned for its craftsmanship in wood and long-standing relationship with designer Terence Conran.
AHEC is well-known in the international design community for its creative promotion of hardwood, having worked with the likes of David Adjaye, Matteo Thun, Sou Fujimoto, Arup and Amanda Levete. Through this initiative, the attention has turned to the potential stars of the future with a unique and ground breaking project for students.
“The project offers a pioneering opportunity for students to create designs within the context of a stark reality,” said Wrong. His co-tutor Richardson added, “it is not only a case of designing a chair that will survive physically far in to the future, it is also to produce a chair whose design will remain relevant far in to the future.”
Education and research provides a unique element to the project because AHEC is using, for the first time, its ground-breaking Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research to help the students produce detailed life cycle impacts for their designs. Each chosen prototype will be environmentally profiled using an LCA modelling system developed for AHEC by sustainability experts – PE International. AHEC is in the process of producing the first-ever Environmental Product Declaration for American hardwood lumber and veneer and it is this data that will be used by the students to build a full ‘cradle-to-grave’ impact for their designs.
“Following our recent collaboration with Benchmark at Salone del Mobile earlier this year, we are excited to partner with them again on this important project that will help students understand and appreciate the beauty of hardwoods. We remain positive that the entire exercise will help the students from the RCA witness first-hand the craftsmanship at Benchmark and more importantly understand the full environmental impact of their designs,” said Rod Wiles, AHEC director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania.
First staged in 2003, the London Design Festival is one of the world’s most important annual design events. The festival programme is made up of over 300 events and exhibitions staged by hundreds of partner organisations across the design spectrum and from around the world. The festival is both a cultural and a commercial event and the programme ranges from major international exhibitions to trade events, installations to talks and seminars, from product launches to receptions, private views and parties. Over 10 days in September, the London Design Festival 2012 will feature hundreds of events that take place across London, showcasing the city’s pivotal role in global design.