The London Design Festival presented another exciting opportunity for the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) to demonstrate the potential of U.S. hardwoods in exterior use. AHEC teamed up with designer Martino Gamper to create an imaginative but very functional 6 meter long hardwood bench featuring a sophisticated patchwork pattern for the LDF Bench year’s project which is located in the John Madejski Gardens at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Infinity Bench was inspired by the Italian concept of autoprogettazione (translated as self-made). Brought to life by Italian designer Enzo Mari, it aims to produce superior quality, functional furniture with materials in one’s own house.Gamper’s interest in this concept led him to create the Infinity Bench, which celebrates colour, texture and shape through the use of different hardwood species. The American red oak, soft maple, ash, yellow birch and tulipwood that make up Infinity Bench have been thermally modified. The thermal modification process uses a high temperature in a controlled environment permanently altering the wood’s chemical and physical properties. This limits the ability of the wood to absorb moisture, so products are more dimensionally stable and less prone to cup, warp and twist with changes in humidity. The thermal modification process also removes the nutrients in wood that would otherwise provide a food source for insects and wood-destroying fungi. This increase in dimensional stability and decay resistance significantly extends the service life and reduces maintenance needs of the bench. The design of the bench is intentionally simple to allow the natural textures, patterns and finishes of the wood to showcase their natural beauty. "I used the autoprogettazione concept as a starting point for my design and to keep the planks as simple as possible. In doing so, I wanted to highlight the liveliness and irregularity of using different types of wood,” says Gamper. Martino Gamper studied sculpture and product design at the Fine Arts Academy in Vienna after completing an apprenticeship in cabinet making. Gamper soon transferred to product design under the leadership of architect and designer Matteo Thun.