AHEC-logoReproduced with kind permission of the American Hardwood Export Council

In the spirit of celebrating and promoting local design talent, Timber IQ Online has been sharing a series of posts on Future Heirlooms, a recent project based around exploring sustainable timber design using specially sourced carbon negative American hardwood. In Part 3 we examine the last two of the seven locally designed pieces and end off with some final insights into the project and the creative process that went into it.

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2


Fumed American red oak; water-based sealer

By NØDE: Charles Haupt & Gerrit Giebel

Fumed American red oak; water-based sealer

The opportunity to work with a new material, and the specialised machinery that allows for it to be manipulated at the Houtlander workshop, created a new approach to the brief for NØDE studio, who specialise in working primarily with aluminium. The DIVISIØN screen they’ve created for Future Heirlooms embraces technology to craft a surface that emulates the studio’s celebrated aluminium carvings through parametric drilling that references the style of the carvings. Featuring hand-made aluminium hinges, and a unique fumigation treatment to the surface of the wood, the piece brings together separate mediums in a uniquely realised, technology-focused design.

“While we normally work with aluminium and other metals, we still have a high appreciation for authentic and natural materials,” says Gerrit Giebel, co-founder of NØDE studio. “The American red oak itself has a beautiful tone with interesting attributes like its high porousness – something we wanted to explore with literal holes through the screen. Adding to this the benefit of the carbon negative footprint of the material and you have an amazing reason to use the material again, one we are definitely considering for future projects.”

The Boomslang

American red oak; hand-fired ceramic tiles; water-based sealer

By Kalki Ceramics: Nindya Bucktowar and Nikhil Tricam

American red oak; hand-fired ceramic tiles; water-based sealer

Kwazulu-Natal based architects and ceramicists Nindya Bucktowar and Nikhil Tricam of Kalki Ceramics take their inspiration for their piece, named The Boomslang, from the rhythm and colour of the scales of the South African tree snake, known locally as the Boomslang. The layers of the piece, with their timber and handmade ceramic ‘scales’, take their form from the coil of the Boomslang around a branch — an animal the duo celebrate as, “an embodiment of existing in a visual harmony with one’s surroundings, while remaining simultaneously camouflaged — a tribute to a striking, exceptional creature, that made it a natural fit for the piece,” they say.

“For us, an heirloom is something that operates in our three dimensions, existing as an item of desirability and beauty, while also managing to operate in the fourth, temporal dimension. It will bridge time, by accumulating and retaining significance through each successive generation of ownership. In this, while the aesthetics are timeless, the value truly comes from the passing of time. We feel that by using a truly sustainable material we are able to communicate that further value is added to an heirloom when its creation is in harmony with the planet and not exploitative of it. With care and craft, value is created. And with the right materials and principles, that value is cemented.”

Another incredibly important facet to working with American red oak for Future Heirlooms, is that the lumber for the project arrived at the South African port of Durban carbon negative. This means that there was more CO2 equivalent sequestered inside the delivered lumber than was emitted during all the processes of extraction from the forest, sawmilling, kiln-drying and even shipping. Just about 1.3 cubic metres of American red oak were used to make all seven pieces, with the finished pieces being made up just under 1 cubic metre of wood after manufacturing. For their lifetime, these seven furniture pieces will keep around 1 069 kg of CO2 equivalent out of the atmosphere.

Such is the size of the US hardwood forest resource and so dominant in the forest is red oak at roughly 18% of the total resource, that all the red oak lumber used to make the seven designs would have been replaced in the US hardwood forest through natural regeneration in just 1.35 seconds.

For more about Future Heirlooms make sure to follow the design journey as it unfolds on the AHEC and Always Welcome websites and social media platforms over the coming months, and make sure to keep an eye out for further announcements as this exciting initiative evolves into its next phase.

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For further information, high-res images, interview opportunities and expert comments, please contact Mariana Reyes on +971 (0) 56 266 2672 or at pr@followbackcommunications.com and Garreth van Niekerk at garreth@alwayswelcome.store