Special feature  

American Hardwoods For Furniture – Sponsored by American Hardwood Export Council

Ash cabinet by Pureline

The hardwood forest resources of the USA have been measured as sustainable since the 1950s, which regular inventory data from the U.S. Forest Service have proven. U.S. trade statistics showing continuous growth in exports of American hardwood lumber have underlined this sustainability for decades. Furniture manufacturers in the U.S. domestic and overseas markets have appreciated the strength, durability, grain patterns and finishing qualities of these species for as long as the international trade in modern furniture has continued. American White Oak, Hard Maple, Tulipwood, Black Cherry, Red Alder and Black Walnut are among many which are native only to North America. Grading is consistent under the Rules of the National Hardwood Lumber Association and highly detailed environment data from the American Hardwood Export Council, illustrating the continued growth of the resource and minimal impact, is unique in the international hardwood trade. The American Hardwood Export Council provides a great deal of technical and environmental information about key species suitable for furniture making which have strong market acceptance.

“American hardwoods derive from sustainably managed forests in the United States. Regular U.S. Forest Service inventories demonstrate that between 1953 and 2007, the volume of U.S. hardwood growing stock more than doubled from 5,210 million m3 to 11,326 million m3. There was a 15% increase in growing stock between 1997 and 2007 despite strong growth in demand for hardwoods during this period. U.S. Forest Service forecasts indicate that further increases of 15 to 20 percent are expected in the hardwood growing stock inventory through 2030. Projections of hardwood growth and removals nationwide indicate that growth will continue to exceed removals through to 2050. All forest owners in the United States are subject to Federal legislation to protect habitats for threatened species. Tough regulations governing other aspects of forest management on private land have been implemented by individual states. Independent studies indicate that there is a very low risk of any American hardwood being derived from illegal sources or from forests where management practices lead to deforestation or to otherwise threaten biodiversity. www.americanhardwoods.org.

The availability of American Hardwood Environmental Profiles for every individual export shipment is a pioneering step forward in demonstrating the benefit of using American hardwood.

AHEC has developed an easy to use visual system to allow U.S. hardwood exporters to create a comprehensive American Hardwood Environmental Profile (AHEP) with each individual consignment of product delivered to any market in the world. For example, the structure and content of the AHEP aligns to the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and closely follows the European Commission’s guidance for the EUTR. Simply put, AHEPs are a consignment-specific shipping document providing information to demonstrate the legality and sustainability of the U.S. hardwood species contained in that consignment including quantitative data on the environmental impacts associated with delivering that consignment anywhere in the world.

AHEC fields experts at furniture trade shows and seminars intended to provide information about American species. AHEC maintains a regional office and staff in Hong Kong which works very closely with furniture associations throughout Asia, except Japan where it has a dedicated office in Osaka.

AHEC staff form USA and Asia

Design Stars Showcase in Singapore

‘Design Stars’ this year featured a collection of pieces by twenty rising Asian and international designers including some from France, Lebanon, Mexico, Russia, UK and USA during the International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) 2016. Also displayed at the show were the finalists of the regular Furniture Design Award (FDA), organized by the Singapore Furniture industries Council (SFIC) and co-sponsored by AHEC.

As IFFS evolves and matures, it stays true to its calling to meld ‘design’ with the furniture business. “In all these years, design has been and remains the focus of the event’s plans and execution, providing direction and injecting life to the show each year. Located right in the middle of the show is the Design Hall (Hall 4), where a creative buzz is keenly felt,” says IFFS. So for this article we picked out a few of our own stars from both exhibits who featured American hardwoods in their personal designs.

Luis Luna of NAMUH studio with his American Walnut table.

Luis Luna hails from Mexico and started his NAMUH studio with the aim to re-interpret familiar products through modern forms and contrasting material that will stand the test of time. His style is simple, functional and filled with character.

Michelle Nathania, the designer at Pureline

Michelle Nathania from Indonesia had been spotted by AHEC in 2015 at the IFFINA show in Jakarta with her excellent American Ash credenza; so it was no surprise to see her selected for IFFS. She set up ‘Pureline Living’ studio in 2013 specialising in interiors and furniture solutions with contemporary designs, clean lines and simple details, “with the highest quality craftsmanship and finest materials.” www.purelineliving.com

Molteni & C. booth at Milan Tarek Elkassouf with his geometric ‘Twisted Edge’ American Black Walnut table

Tarek Elkassouf has divided his time mainly between the Lebanon and Sydney, specializing in Architecture, urban planning and furniture design since 2005. He also has experience in designing for cities and projects across the Middle East and North Africa. www.tarekelkassouf.com

Hsin-Chun holding her ‘Bent Bench’ in American Red Oak

Hsin-Chun and Ye Liu design in New York at hcwd studio which they co-founded in 2013, believing that good design lies at the intersection of functionality and sensibility.

Grace Cheung’s Oak stool to sharee

Grace Cheung from Hong Kong was among the FDA Finalists with her ‘Stool for Us’ – a piece of furniture about sharing and connections between two individuals, asking the question “Are we willing to offer half of the seat to someone else?” graccccce@gmail.com

John Green, UK with his ‘Otis’ American Oak stool

John Green in the UK is an award-winning designer of furniture and lifestyle products for manufacturers. He also works on his own brand and as a freelance designer collaborating with other designers and manufacturers. www. johngreendesigns.co.uk

These were just a few of the inspiring young designers who are emerging in the Asian markets and undoubtedly hold the future of using fine materials at the high-end of the furniture business – in these cases American hardwood species.