• Maple: a sustainable material

A sustainable material

A call for material diversity

For AHEC, the principal goal of these collaborations is to bridge the gap between the design industry and the naturally regenerating forests that supply American hardwoods, and to call for a sustainable material-first design approach that is led by resource availability rather than trends.

The relentless pursuit of ever-changing trends has led to overexploitation of certain wood species, disregarding the rich diversity of natural resources available. Moreover, trends that prioritise flawless, uniform appearances incentivise practices that may compromise the integrity and resilience of forests and ecosystems.” – Rocio Perez-Inigo, director of communications, AHEC

To truly embrace sustainability, AHEC believes the industry must shift its paradigm towards a more holistic understanding of materials. This begins with integrating material choice into the initial stages of the design process, prioritising responsibly sourced, renewable natural materials and investing time and effort in learning and understanding their unique characteristics and potential. Rather than treating natural materials as like-for-like substitutes for man-made equivalents, design must recognise and celebrate their inherent qualities and imperfections as part of their charm and authenticity. By adopting this mindset and approach – as Parti and Giles Tettey Nartey have in this project – we can foster a more sustainable design ethos that respects and preserves the natural world while meeting the needs of contemporary design aesthetics.

American maple (Acer rubrum and Acer saccharum) 

A close cousin of European maple and sycamore, American maple is a cold-climate species favouring the northern states and can reach heights of 23–27 metres, with a trunk diameter of 75cm. Maple is a predominantly creamy white, hard-wearing timber that can be machined and polished to a very smooth finish, making it a favourite for sports floors across the world. It is also the primary source of maple syrup. 

Find out more about American maple here