THE TIMELESSNESS AND VERSATILITY OF TIMBER AS A MATERIAL CHOICE FOR VARIOUS APPLICATIONS ENSURES IT’S FIT FOR DESIGN IDEAS AND CONCEPTS IN THE HOME OR WORKPLACE.
Timber furniture connotes warmth, richness, comfort and brings about a touch of nature to your home. Timber furniture has a way of enhancing the home as it offers a unique combination of aesthetic appeal and structural integrity unmatched by other materials.
Due to its tone, texture, and naturalness; wood has the ability to transform the mood and ambiance of a room or abode to one that is inviting and welcoming. A hugely popular material, timber is not only widely used within Asian interiors but continues to grow in popularity around the globe as designers increasingly turn to natural materials. American hardwood is one of the top choices among designers and architects for its aesthetics, green credentials, and wide variety of species.
Each species can be crafted into durable, long-lasting furniture, cabinetry, flooring and millwork, and the uniqueness of timber is that no two pieces are the same as each offers inimitable markings with variation in grain pattern, texture and colour.
You may not know that 33% of the land area of the USA is forest and unlike many other countries, most of the US forest resource is owned by nearly 4 million private landowners who may only sell hardwood logs from their land once or twice in their lifetime. The forests have been sustainably managed for generations through selective harvesting and allowing the forest to naturally regenerate. As the rate of growth is greater than annual harvest (2.4:1) the US forest continues to increase in size every year.
Whilst much of the timber grown in the US is used domestically, the demand for US hardwood species from around the world is significant because not only is it truly sustainable, but it is also legally managed and harvested. Furthermore, the true environmental impact of each and every shipment of American hardwood species around the world can be proven through the American Hardwood Environmental Profiles (AHEP) that are available from the producers. These demonstrate that even taking into account processing and transport, most shipments will be carbon negative when they reach their destination in Southeast Asia.
There is also a huge variety of different hardwood timbers that suit a range of applications. American white oak is the most widely exported and favoured for its consistent strong grain, and light colour. It’s a very versatile timber that suits the Scandinavian aesthetic that remains popular globally. American walnut remains a favourite with high-end designers and architects providing an undeniably luxury touch to any project.
American tulipwood and red oak on the other hand are the rising stars as their abundance means they are readily available and versatile as well as lending a unique aesthetic be it to large scale architectural applications or furniture design. Perhaps most importantly, American species are exceptionally high quality, such is the sophistication of the extraction, kiln drying, end-coating, equalising and conditioning processes in the US, in addition to rigorous grading regulations imposed by the National Hardwood Lumber Association. Users of American hardwood species can be certain of consistency in quality of what they buy.
The American hardwood producers in the USA are supported by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the U.S. hardwood industry. AHEC runs outreach activities across more than 35 countries. One of the key activities of AHEC is to support architects and designers around the world to make an informed choice about the timber they specify in their projects. There are many success stories of the good relationships that exist between exporters in the US and designers and manufacturers in Southeast Asia.
One such story is of Malaysian founder of Jomecowood, designer Joseph Teoh, who in 2007 took over 60 containers of American white oak, ash and walnut from a business associate. As an interior designer Joseph has always had a passion for using timber and explained that it matters to bring nature and natural materials into the home to add both warmth and style. He always tries and incorporates about 30% timber into his finished designs.
According to Joseph, American hardwoods have a better consistency than most timbers in terms of hardness, quality and being properly kiln-dried. In the first six months of his business venture it was difficult trying to convince people that wood was a reliable and beautiful alternative for kitchen surfaces, with the breakthrough coming from a 3-metre-long American walnut island bench which he exhibited at a local 3-day kitchen exhibition. The company has since expanded beyond providing solid timber kitchen surfaces to include timber wall panels and furniture, made possible by an in-house manufacturing facility in Selangor.
The story of Jomecowood’s success is one of passion, hard work and luck but also of a canny business mind who was able to spot an opportunity and a design trend and marry the two. There are many more success stories that highlight the potential that timber furniture presents to America and the rest of the world. Here we present you with other instances where timber is used to showcase the depth of interior designing and architecture which demonstrate how timber effortlessly brings naturalness and warmth to a space while transforming the space from ordinary to extraordinary.
An American tulipwood CLT (cross laminated timber) structure created for London Design Festival in 2016, The Smile showcased the extraordinary qualities of American tulipwood and the construction potential of CLT. The expertise of renowned architect, Alison Brooks and the engineering mastery of Arup means that this is perhaps one of the most ambitious structures ever made of CLT.
The sculptural curves of this vessel, created in American white oak fulfilled the ‘wish’ of the late Zaha Hadid who commissioned Gareth Neal to create this unique piece of tableware as part of AHEC’s Wish List project
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Designed by a Foster + Partners team led by Norman Foster himself, this building won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2018, gathered a BREEAM rating of 98.5%, and has been given the status of the world’s most sustainable office building. 1852m2 of American red oak was used for the building’s dramatic swirling Vortex space which greets you the moment you enter the lobby. Besides being renewable, energy efficient and carbon rich, American red oak was also chosen due to its warmth that will mellow and mature with age.
American Hardwood Export Council | www.americanhardwood.org
Article Courtesy of Metropolitan Home 2020