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The Key to Popularising Sustainability

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In recent years the timber sector has recognised that the best way to promote their products is through communicating with designers and influences. This new approach of promoting wood via social media is demonstrated in the American Hardwood Connected Programme and the Timber Trade Federation’s Conversations about Climate Change initiative.

The AHEC Connected programme was formulated during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made in-person collaborations between designers impossible. AHEC recognised the opportunity to promote sustainable hardwood products to a wider audience via digital communication and taking on a relatable, work-from-home, attitude 1.

AHEC, in partnership with Benchmark Furniture and The Design Museum, briefed nine designers from nine different countries, to create a table and seating area purely out of sustainably sourced red oak, maple or cherry hardwoods. The project is to be completed by September, when the pieces will form an installation at The Design Museum called ‘Connected’ which will symbolise the celebratory coming together of people after lockdown. Following this, the designers will be able to keep all the products they create. The hope is that the furniture designed will be more personal to the designer, giving a unique insight into what they felt their homes required to be functional during the COVID-19 lockdown. AHEC have also created a website specifically for the project, where people can follow the process of designing, making and creating.

In contrast, the TTF’s ‘Conversations about Climate Change’ is an open invitation to any budding designers willing to submit ‘conversation pieces’ created out of sustainably sourced materials. This project aims to combat illegal logging and promote wood as an environmentally friendly material 2. To participate in the project follow this link.

This project is an attempt to reiterate the importance and influence that designers have in the timber supply chain and make creators reconsider the materials they first reach for. The reward for winning this competition is a supply of FLEGT tropical hardwood and the opportunity to expand their product’s reach with a maker’s bursary3.

In alignment with FLEGT objectives of creating a new, functional framework to ensure the legality of wood entering the EU, the conversation pieces are aimed at stimulating discussion around material provenance. The hope of these discussions is to encourage the use of responsible procurement policies to discourage the use of illegal timber in the EU and around the globe, which has contributed so much to deforestation and the climate crisis.

These schemes have so far attracted a large amount of attention from the forestry sector and wider afield, showing these have a great potential to attract people from outside the timber industry towards using and understanding sustainable wood. The hope is that high profile designers will create new trends in sustainable wood usage and promotion, influencing wider creative industries; resulting in increased demand for properly managed timber products over those from unsustainable sources.

  1. Chan, T.F.,(2020). A new AHEC project invites a global roster to design from a distance. Wallpaper[]
  2. Fulcher, M., (2020). Conversations about Climate Change. Architects Journal[]
  3. Ibid[]
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