Clerkwenwell Design Week Celebrates 5 years with new designs in American Hardwood

The American Hardwood Export Council has collaborated with five teams from design collective OKAY Studio to produce an eclectic mix of innovative designs for Clerkenwell Design Week 2014.

The project celebrates the fifth edition of Clerkenwell Design Week and demonstrates the versatility of five American hardwood species. Mathias Hahn, Liliana Ovalle, Ed Swan, Andrew Haythornthwaite and Peter Marigold (collaborating for this project), and partnership Hunting & Narud, each approached the project with their own unique style and the finished result is a diverse collection of fresh and invigorating pieces culminating in the exhibition, ‘FIVE’. The exhibition design itself is the brainchild of Andrew Haythornthwaite and is open at The SCIN Gallery, the only materials gallery on Old Street. In February this year, the design teams were presented with the five timbers – American ash, cherry, hard maple, red oak and tulipwood and were asked to present a design inspired by these timbers and the number five. Demonstrating OKAY Studio’s creative flair, the designs are unique and inspired, studying the beauty, texture, colour and performance of American hardwoods through sculptures, furniture and tableware.

Kent-based maker, Adam Kershaw, has been integral to the project, offering guidance during the design process, and eventually making three of the five projects – Apex Tables, Shift Series and Claroscuro. The fabrication of Tulou and Runcible was outsourced. Adam Kershaw, who is renowned for his craftsmanship and skill with wood comments:

‘Working with OKAY Studio has been an extremely refreshing experience; their perception of materials is intuitive and untainted by tradition and practicality, resulting in challenging and innovative designs. It was interesting to work with timber species that are not commonly specified by clients, yet are the most abundant and versatile timbers in the U.S. hardwood forest and have the potential to make a much greater contribution to 21st century product design. It’s important that we share this knowledge with designers.’

The material was provided by Morgan Timber based in Rochester, one of the biggest suppliers of quality timber in South East England.

David Venables, European Director of the American Hardwood Export Council comments:

‘The vast temperate hardwood forests of the Eastern United States provide an abundance and diversity of timber species. Given current furniture fashion you may be forgiven for thinking our forests are all about white oak and walnut. This is not the case; white oak is not the most abundant oak species and walnut is less than 1% of the standing hardwood trees in the forests. The five species we selected for this project (ash, maple, red oak, tulipwood and cherry), account for over 50% of the resource. Establishing a balance between market demand and the dynamic of the forest is essential to achieve true sustainability. I love the enthusiasm that OKAY Studio brought to this project and hope we have inspired them to use these sustainable hardwoods in future product design.’