“Connected” | The Plan
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Made Together Apart

By Editorial Staff -
Ahec has participated in the project

The long-standing partnership between the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and the London Design Festival provided yet another opportunity with “Connected” to reflect on and experiment with the huge potential of American hardwood - a renewable, easily recycled, low impact construction material - by engaging with both famous designers and architects and emerging new talents.

For the 2020 London Design Festival, AHEC partnered Benchmark Furniture and London’s Design Museum to invite nine international designers to develop “Connected”, an exhibition of nine tables and seating that reflect their personal experience during lockdown and how this gave rise to new ways of living and working from home in often improvised office spaces.

The brief required designers to work with three sustainable American hardwood species: red oak, maple and cherry. Of great beauty, these three underused species make up some 40% of American hardwood forests, accounting for their diversity and sustainability. Red oak is the most widespread while the soft maple is the fastest regenerating hardwood species. All three are extremely versatile, withstanding heat treatments and a variety of finishes.

Justin McGuirk, Chief Curator of the Design Museum, explained: “Commissioning nine designers to make furniture from wood does not sound like a particularly original brief. But these are not ordinary times. We are all being over-exposed to our homes and having to adapt to new patterns of working. The pandemic has forced each designer to approach their home working set-up with a completely fresh perspective - what do they really need? The “Connected” project has been a rare opportunity for them to design for themselves, but the key challenge has been that they have had to rely entirely on digital communication. It could not be more relevant and we are delighted with the results”. The project was on display from...

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