AHEC launches collaboration with five Indian furniture designers

REMAKE was conceived as a response to the need for hands-on experience with American hardwoods in India’s furniture manufacturing sector

The American Hardwood Export Council has launched ‘REMAKE’, its first design collaboration with five Indian furniture designers. The project challenges the leading designer-makers to each select three pieces from their existing furniture range and to remake them using American hardwoods. This is the first design collaboration by AHEC involving Indian designers and it builds on prior initiatives, which have aimed at creatively promoting American hardwoods, and have involved the likes of Zaha Hadid, David Adjaye, Matteo Thun, Sou Fujimoto, Norman Foster and Paul Smith amongst others.

REMAKE was conceived as a response to the need for hands-on experience with American hardwoods in India’s furniture manufacturing sector. The designers involved with the project include Studio Wood, Bram Woodcrafting Studio, Kam Ce Kam, Esvee Atelier and Studio SFDW. In response to the brief, the designers have been asked to choose three of their own existing pieces and remake them using American red oak, white oak, cherry, hard maple, tulipwood or hickory. AHEC will be supplying all the lumber for the project from a stock of American hardwood species held in India, which was donated to AHEC by Allegheny Wood Products at the beginning of this year.

“Running an effective American hardwood promotion programme in India sometimes presents challenges due to the size of the market and the unorganized nature of much of the trade and industry. However, despite not being able to travel to India since the beginning of the year, AHEC has been able to remotely launch this exciting new project with five furniture manufacturers,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director. “The wealth of legally-harvested and sustainably-managed hardwoods that the United States has to offer is of increasing interest to India’s furniture manufacturers, as they seek to explore new materials, look for long-term alternatives to traditional furniture hardwoods and also widen their appeal to their intended markets, be they in India itself or overseas.”

The onset of COVID-19 and the enforced lockdown actually enabled AHEC to spend a lot of time conducting in-depth research into India’s furniture manufacturing sector and to identify a significant number of companies previously unknown. Many of these companies are already using imported temperate hardwoods for their production, which is primarily targeted at India’s domestic market. In most cases, these companies are using European oak, ash and beech. However, American hardwoods are not yet well-known and understood in India and only a handful of manufacturers have hands-on experience with working with them. This lack of experience and lack of collective knowledge means that, to most manufacturers (and consumers), American hardwoods remain somewhat unknown.

“We’re very excited, not only by the caliber of the designers involved in this project, but also by the fabulous pieces that we look forward to seeing in these versatile, yet less well-known American hardwood species. REMAKE will explore how these designers champion a beautiful and sustainable material - American hardwood - in a market that holds tremendous potential. Whilst we do not currently have any plans to hold a physical exhibition of the finished pieces from this project, we are certainly exploring suitable opportunities in the next 6-12 months. Looking ahead, we hope that this collaboration will inspire the next generation of furniture designers and help the Indian market discover the untapped potential of U.S. hardwoods,” concluded Wiles.

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