The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has undertaken a project involving industrial students from the Design Products MA programme from London’s Royal College of Art to produce 12 chairs that were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum during the London Design Festival, from 14 to 23 September 2012. The students had to design a chair or some type of functional seat using one or more of the nineteen types of commercially available American hardwood. These prototypes were then actually created in conjunction with the carpenters of Benchmark. AHEC provided these young designers with their recent Life Cycle Assessment of American hardwoods so that they could calculate the environmental impact of their design across its lifecycle, from felling timber in the forest, through the manufacturing phase right up to disposal. The search for a sustainable design led to a range of techniques being employed: lightness and ease of handling, simple assembly and transport, recycling of raw materials, use of low impact processing techniques and so on. The designs themselves combine originality, careful craftsmanship and design quality.
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