Hardwood for the Home
Connected, an exhibition of contemporary furniture, has opened in Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour’s Design Avenue. This collaborative project began life in lockdown, when the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Benchmark Furniture and the Design Museum challenged nine designers to create pieces for their own use, to suit their new ways of living and working from home. Each has responded in a unique and highly personal way, from Sabine Marcelis’ practical, fold-away cubicle with a shot of colour hidden within to Jaime Hayon’s Swiss-army-knife-inspired multifunctional table.
These diverse, experimental and fascinating approaches to furniture design have sustainability as a uniting principle. With a better-than-carbon-neutral footprint overall, they demonstrate the positive impact of using American hardwoods such as cherry and red oak, and show that what’s good for the business of design can also be good for the planet.
AHEC has also produced its Guide to Sustainable American Hardwoods, a free book that acts as an in-depth guide for anyone who works with timber in the architecture and design industries.
The guide is arranged by species, from the maple used for Heatherwick Studio’s Stem desk to the cherry employed for Jaime Hayon’s Swiss-army-knife-inspired Mesamachine table, with details for each species on its availability, performance and uses. However, as well as being a compendium of technical information, it features case studies that bring to life the beauty and versatility of each timber, such as Ian Ritchie Architects’ Susie Sainsbury Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music, lined with cherry wood to deliver outstanding quality of sound, and Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Oldham, designed by architects dRMM, the world’s first building made from hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT). Sections on sustainability, grading and timbers’ use in furniture in product design present a 360-degree view of the subject.