Legacy, a collaboration between the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and some of London’s top cultural institutions conveyed the message of sustainability in multiple ways at the recently concluded London Design Festival (LDF), which ran from September 14 – 22, 2019. According to AHEC, in the face of global environmental challenges, any new objects we create should be designed with the intention to last and to be passed on through generations – whether to family or to an institution. The project was spearheaded by David Venables, AHEC’s European Director, and Benchmark Furniture whose Berkshire workshop made all of the pieces over the summer.
In May of this year, Sir John Sorrell CBE, Chairman of London Design Festival, invited leaders of London’s cultural institutions to collaborate with some of Europe’s most exciting designers to create a ‘legacy’ piece of design – an object of personal or professional relevance that they would like to pass on to a family member or the institution they lead. The pieces – ten in total – were all crafted using American red oak. Nine of these beautiful and thought-provoking collaborations were on show in the Sculpture Gallery of the Victoria & Albert Museum, with one piece on display outside the Natural History Museum on Exhibition Road, for the duration of LDF.
“The pieces celebrate an abundant species of hardwood, American red oak, which is an expanding resource in North America, and regenerates naturally in vast amounts. In fact, red oak makes up nearly one fifth of all hardwood volume in the American forest and even when harvesting is taken into account, the volume is increasing every year by over 21 million cubic meters – equivalent to five Wembley stadiums,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director. “Wood is renewable and easily recycled. It is low impact and a carbon store – each cubic meter of red oak keeps more than one tonne of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere for as long as the product is in use. Legacy aims to showcase what this timber is capable of and just how versatile and beautiful it can be.”