The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, has unveiled its ‘Seed to Seat’ furniture collaborative at ‘100% Design South Africa’, Africa’s premier exhibition and sourcing platform for high-end contemporary design, which ran from August 9 – 13, 2017 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
Given an open brief and asked to design ‘something to sit on’, the designers have created seven unique pieces using American tulipwood, red oak, soft maple and cherry, which are less well-known American hardwood species in South Africa. The project in South Africa is the third edition of ‘Seed to Seat’, which was initially launched in Australia last year and in Dubai earlier this year.
The seven seats, which have been designed and made by some of the most prominent and exciting designers based in South Africa, were on show in a creative display that highlighted the sustainable credentials of the American hardwood resource. The designers involved with ‘Seed to Seat’ South Africa are Andrew Dominic (Andrew Dominic Furniture), James Mudge (James Mudge Furniture Studio), Laurie Wiid van Heerden (Wiid Design), Christoph Karl (Guideline Manufacturing), Jacques Cronje (minima), David Krynauw (David Krynauw) and Adriaan Hugo (Dokter and Misses).
Aiming to demonstrate that sustainability can have substance, AHEC is also developing full environmental profiles for each of the finished pieces using its ground-breaking Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research. “Seed to Seat was conceived as a way for AHEC to collaborate with high profile designers and to introduce them to U.S. hardwood species that are less well-known in their markets. Not only has 100% Design South Africa offered us the right platform to exhibit the finished pieces, this project more importantly marks the first time Life Cycle Assessment on wooden furniture has been carried out in South Africa,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania. “Collaborative projects such as Seed to Seat have proven to be a highly effective way of stimulating interest in American hardwoods from designers. At the same time, they help to serve as a means of demonstrating the beauty of widely-available, yet under-utilized American hardwood species.”
With Seed to Seat, AHEC aims to identify the true environmental impact of design and build on its extensive work with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Incorporating AHEC’s LCA research for 19 American hardwood species and all data concerning materials, energy usage, transport and wastage, which was recorded during the manufacturing process, AHEC is able to assess the full environmental impact for each finished piece.
For each design, AHEC has also calculated how many seconds it would take for the wood used to make the piece to be replaced through natural regeneration in the US hardwood forest. Factoring in the size of the forest, annual harvest rates, natural mortality and regeneration rates, AHEC has calculated that it would take less than two seconds for all the wood used to grow back in the forest.
“The American hardwood forest covers 120 million hectares, roughly equivalent to the size of South Africa. Hardwood trees are selectively harvested and replaced with new growth through natural regeneration. Regeneration far outstrips harvest and, as a result, this vast resource increases by 130 million cubic metres every year. For illustrative purposes, this is equivalent to around 4.5 million 40 foot containers in volume. Our initial analysis of the entire project revealed that a total of 0.67 cubic metres of solid hardwood lumber was used to make the pieces. Significantly, due to the carbon storage properties of wood, for the duration of their lifetimes, all of the seats will keep a total of 676.70kg of CO2 equivalent out of the atmosphere. Overall, this project has brought together good design, environmental awareness and ‘new’ American hardwoods,” concluded Wiles.
Photos: Sarah de Pina, 100% Design
For more information see: www.seedtoseat.info