The initial partnership between Houtlander and AHEC led to the conception of the first edition of the Preservation Bench. The objective for Houtlander was to create a range of outdoor furniture that is weather resistant and durable, but with minimal impact on the environment. This could be achieved through the use of American hardwoods, which are from well-managed forests, where growth exceeds harvest by a significant margin. Trees absorb carbon as they grow and, effectively, act as a carbon store, meaning that using American hardwoods in design has a very low carbon footprint.
The project pushes the restrictions of the physical properties of timber through the use of thermally-modified American red oak, whilst remaining sustainable. The somewhat brittle nature of thermally-modified American red oak is completely forgotten, as the piece performs acrobatics to reach new heights of both woodworking, and art appreciation. Although ancient African and European art styles may have been the inspiration behind it, the Preservation Bench is undoubtedly grounded in the world of today.