Designer and Professor Stefano Santilli will present the latest manifestation of the aptly named ‘Work in Process’ at Collect, 28 February - 3 March 2019, at the Saatchi Gallery.  The work, made in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council, utilises a variety of American Hardwoods including American red oak, American cherry and American maple.

Collect is the only gallery-presented art fair dedicated to modern craft and design. It provides visitors an opportunity to discover and invest in exceptional work produced in the last five years by living artists, much of which is made exclusively for the fair.

Santilli’s work, made at his established studio practice in Brighton, is largely focused on the process of creation and the art of craftsmanship. This is motivated by an insatiable fascination by creation based on narratives and ideas rather than end-goals.

Work in Process is made up by a series of eight American red oak, cherry and maple vessels derived from 3D scans of found objects. Santilli’s method of creation derives from his choice to be influenced by his surroundings. Rather than drawing a design and shape, he scours his local area for lost objects and uses their shape for inspiration. One of the vessels, shaped like a bottle, was inspired by a small handle he found on his local beach. He then used a 3D scanner to convert it into a digital object where he is able to scale it up and then physically recreate it.

“The first species of American hardwood I used was red oak which was a very pleasant surprise,” says Santilli. “Having never used this type of wood before I was impressed with how it is rugged looking yet technically perfect and easy to work. The table is made from a mixture of solid red oak and veneer which wasn’t in the initial plan but I was inspired by the wood.”

American hardwood was chosen for this project for both its aesthetic qualities and versatility. The vessels are steamed, folded and manipulated into complex and interesting shapes. The interior of each continues to evolve as a result of the exterior mutations.

The vessels are supported by a 3.5m long American red oak trestle table with a box housing a scrolling LED message reader on the top. The message reader will be initially invisible, hidden behind a very thin layer of wood, until the LED screen is turned on.  The LED screen will have images “found or snatched”. The dancing images and symbols on the screen reflect Santilli’s bewilderment with the bombardment of visual information he experiences. “The table shows a ‘chaos of stuff’,” Santilli says. “When we walk along the street there is an overloading of sensory data and information constantly vying for our attention.”

Work in Process is a reflection of the ongoing experimentation of process and the continual evolution of influence and creation. Santilli allows each piece to be directly influenced by the last, rather than setting out with a clear objective. The work is never truly complete and is in a constant state of flux. Rather than being thought of as a finished object, the piece is intended to be an insight into the process of creation.

David Venables, AHEC’s European Director, says “American red oak makes up nearly 20% of the U.S. hardwood forest and its volume is increasing year on year. Although it’s highly considered in other markets across the world, it’s still vastly underused in Europe. AHEC saw this collaboration as a way of showing the versatility of the timber and it ties in to a wider initiative to encourage designers and makers to expand their palette of species in order to contribute to a sustainable use of the forests.”


Collect, Saatchi Gallery, 28 February - 3 March 2019.



For over 25 years the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has been at the forefront of international wood promotion, successfully building a distinctive and creative brand for U.S. hardwoods. AHEC’s global programme secures a future for American hardwoods by demonstrating the performance and aesthetic potential of these sustainable materials, while providing valuable creative inspiration and technical assistance.




Red oak is the dominant species in the U.S. hardwood forests with distinctive grain and wood that is not always red in colour. The name is supposedly due to the autumn leaf colour. Red oak trees grow only naturally and almost exclusively in North America, although planted elsewhere. Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) data shows red oak growing stock is 18.7% of total U.S. hardwood growing stock and that while 33.9 million m3 of American red oak are harvested each year, more than 32 million m3 are naturally growing over the same period. In general, the sapwood of red oaks is light brown and the heartwood is often pinkish to reddish brown. American red oaks have very good overall strength properties relative to weight. Its main uses are furniture, flooring, doors and certain construction applications. 

To learn more about American red oak visit:



 The Crafts Council is the country's foremost authority on contemporary craft in all its forms. Founded in 1971, its role as guardian and champion of national craft practice has evolved to include exploring and enabling new possibilities, making methods and technologies. In summer 2019 the Crafts Council will reopen its Pentonville Road premises as a new centre for craft, ahead of its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2021. The Crafts Council is a charity. Its work is made possible by the support of trusts and foundations, individual patrons, and corporate sponsors, and through public funding by Arts Council England.