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RCA Students to Merge Design with Sustainability

July 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Top Picks

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) will collaborate with product design students at the Royal College of Art in London to create and produce innovative seating that merges design with sustainability using American hardwood. The chairs that result from this exciting collaboration will be exhibited at the V&A during the London Design Festival from 14th-23rd September at an exhibition called Out of the Woods: Adventures of 13 Hardwood Chairs.

Each piece will undergo a Life Cycle Assessment, illustrating and comparing the environmental impact. The students will be building their seating at Terence Conran’s picturesque Benchmark workshops during the week of 9th July.

Under the leadership of tutors Sebastian Wrong and Harry Richardson, the use of wood as a material and its Life Cycle impacts have been added to the Design Products curriculum and the students have been set the challenge of designing a functional chair or seat in an American hardwood of their choice.

AHEC is well known in the international design community for its creative promotion of hardwood, having worked with the likes of David Adjaye, Matteo Thun, Sou Fujimoto, Arup and Amanda Levete. But now its attention has turned to the potential stars of the future with a unique and ground-breaking project for students.

Each chosen prototype will be environmentally profiled using an LCA modelling system developed for AHEC by sustainability experts, PE International. AHEC is in the process of producing the first-ever Environmental Product Declaration for American hardwood lumber and veneer; it is this data that will be used by the students to build a full “cradle-to-grave” impact for their designs.

Sebastian Wrong said that the project “offers a pioneering opportunity for students to create designs within the context of a stark reality.” His co-tutor Harry Richardson added, “it is not only a case of designing a chair that will survive physically far in to the future, it is also to produce a chair whose design will remain relevant far in to the future.”

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