February 2015

Frank Gehry, one of the world’s leading architects, recently opened his first building in Australia – the USD 140 million Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology, Sydney. Dubbed the ‘brown paper bag’ by local media, the building has been designed to be as inspiring and spectacular inside as on the outside. Interestingly, two oval classrooms, which have been constructed using 150 large laminated timber beams, have attracted significant attention at the opening of the building. The two oval-shaped classrooms at the center of the new building – representing a new style of learning and teaching – have a capacity for almost 60 people and aim to provide a very different teaching and learning experience from the traditional front-facing presentation, encouraging dialogue between students and teachers. The fact that they have been built from timber is further testament to the global renaissance of timber as a material of choice for architects and interior designers.

As the only magazine dedicated to the timber and woodworking industry in the Middle East, I am happy to announce the launch of our first seminar and networking evening for the industry – ‘Talking Timber’. Supported by the American Hardwood Export Council, Swedish Wood, Malaysian Timber Council and American Softwoods, the event will take place on April 13, 2015 and will throw the spotlight on timber and why we should be embracing it as a material. Ahead of the event, we have asked Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania; Charlotte Dedye Apelgren, Communications Manager at Swedish Wood; Khairul Anwar, Director, MTC Dubai; and Charles Trevor, Consultant to American Softwoods to share their views on the market for timber in the MENA region. At the time f going to press, we are close to finalizing the venue and format for the evening with further announcements due via our website.

Celebrating Middle East design, we take a look at two recent design initiatives by the American Hardwood Export Council and Swedish Wood. The former partnered with Seekers Furnishing whereby eight chairs and seats were designed using American hardwoods and veneers for the ‘Design Dine Donate’ charity gala in Dubai whilst the latter worked with the American University in Dubai to organize ‘Swedish Wood meets Arabia’, a sustainable student design competition. The impressive pieces that resulted from both initiatives serves to highlight the creativity and growing understanding of timber in the region. Further, we also throw the spotlight on Lebanese furniture designer Nada Debs and her ‘Strand’ collection. Designed in 2012, the collection was inspired by the idea of fusing arabesque patterns into vintage furniture.

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