The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) showcased its innovative approach to hardwood communications at the Cologne fair with two new initiatives that were on show – the Blushing Bar and Rubra.

There was information on the whole richly diverse palette of US hardwoods at the show. Additionally, AHEC visitors were invited to take another look at species they may feel they’re familiar with. In particular the spotlight was on red oak.

“Red oak is not just America’s most abundant hardwood, and so its most sustainable, it’s hugely versatile with an appealing, wonderfully warm aesthetic. However, while it’s very popular in other markets, it’s been less utilised in Europe,” says David Venables. “We have some incredibly exciting projects lined up to showcase its potential through the year. It’s oak redefined and it all starts at Interzum.”

The Blushing Bar was designed by architects Chan + Eayrs and crafted by furniture maker Sebastian Cox. The circular bar measures at 3m diameter and is composed of 10 modules intended for making cocktails (water, alcohol, fruit, herbs, holders, ice, cutting, glass, sodas, wash basin), each of which forms a variation of a curved sculpted element. The design exploits the unique properties of American red oak, large open pores, which have been injected with red calligraphy ink, which worked to the surface to pick out the beautiful grain.

To further highlight red oak’s technical performance and aesthetic, AHEC commissioned designer-maker Sebastian Cox to produce furniture for its stand at the. The result is the Rubra collection; a long bar-height table with stools that can be ingeniously stored underneath.

Cox explains, “Everything we design is scaleable with production in mind. Added to which the market needs more products in this material.

“It was the perfect material for the brief. Its strength to weight meant we could make the proportions of the pieces very elegant,” he adds. “It also bends a great deal before snapping, machines beautifully and takes a finish well. One challenge was its eagerness to absorb glue, but, given a double application, the connections were as strong as in any hardwood.”

By combining twin AHEC pavilions with companies exhibiting independently the total of suppliers who exhibited at the cologne exhibition will underline the US hardwood sector’s commitment to revitalise its European connections.

AHEC will use the show to further highlight the environmental strengths of the US hardwood resource, presenting its various tools for verifying its sustainability. These include the LCA tool, plus its interactive, satellite imagery-based interactive forest map and American Hardwood Environmental Profile, a ‘green passport’, detailing the carbon and wider environmental impacts of US hardwood consignments shipped to any destination worldwide.

AHEC will additionally unveil the latest edition of its Seneca Creek-produced risk assessment study, a uniquely wide-ranging analysis of the risk of illegal wood entering the US hardwood supply chain.