SLOW: Slow furniture for fast change

Throughout the current academic year 2021-2022, AHEC is developing in Spain the SLOW project in which are participating around 300 university students from the 10 main Spanish schools in higher product design studies.

The challenge is to design a piece of furniture using four underutilized species of American hardwoods: red oak, hard maple, cherry and tulipwood, that responds to the idea of “Slow furniture for fast change”.

The concept "Slow" does not refer to the time it takes to design or make something, but is characterized by paying special attention to products made of materials that last a lifetime and that create an emotional bond with their owner. The growing debate on sustainability and the need to end our current throwaway culture are other aspects that make this concept even more relevant.

Designers have a huge influence on how products are planned and with what materials. The future of this development is in the hands of the next generation of designers. With the SLOW project, AHEC aims to empower this generation of designers and offer them a platform, challenging them to come up with innovative ideas.

The initial phase of the project was launched during the months of October and November 2021 with the attendance of all the participants and their professors at a presentation at their university, in which they were introduced to the knowledge of the American resource of hardwoods, its forest management and its environmental credentials, species diversity with an emphasis on underutilized species and new applications that allow new technical advances to conclude with a space dedicated to questions and answers.

At the end of January 2022, each participating school will preselect three designs that will be reviewed by a panel of mentors made up of renowned design professionals, a manufacturing expert, and an AHEC representative. The panel will select one project from each school. Each of the ten selected finalists will be paired with a mentor who, being an experienced designer, will guide and assist the student in bringing their design to its full potential and finalizing the design and preparing it for fabrication.

The ten finalist pieces of furniture will be manufactured with wood donated by AE Maderas, a member of AEIM.

Due to AHEC believes that it is important to establish the environmental impact of the design and manufacture of wood products, the environmental credentials, the carbon storage capacity and the overall low energy impact of each of the ten pieces of furniture, it will be illustrated through of an exhaustive evaluation of the life cycle of each one of them.

The final works of the SLOW project will be exhibited in an exhibition in Valencia the second half of June 2022, within the framework of the activities organized for "Valencia, World Capital of Design 2022".