Four ambitious projects, three sustainable hard woods, 22 furniture with a refined design. The one proposed by AHEC is not just a showcase of creativity, but a manifesto against waste in design

On the occasion of FuoriSalone 2022, from 3 to 12 June, at Triennale Milano, Forest Tales is staged, an exhibition curated by Studio Swine which represents the culmination of the creative work of AHEC - American Hardwood Export Council in the past two years.

The protagonist is a collection of design objects conceived during the pandemic and made with three hardwoods (maple, cherry and oak red), beautiful, sustainable and from American forests.

The question of a change of perspective is an integral part of both the form and the content of the installation: Forest Tales is not just a showcase of creativity, but a manifesto against waste in design, a call for a more thoughtful choice of materials and a challenge to the status quo.

Read also: Perpetuum Mobile by Enric Miralles & Benedetta Tagliabue for AHEC as part of Interni Re-Generation at the University of Milan

The exhibition features works by contemporary designers, both established and emerging - including Thomas Heatherwick, Jaime Hayon, Maria Bruun and Mac Collins - , in an installation that encourages visitors to explore these sustainable materials and reflect on the relationship between forests and everyday objects.

Also on display are four solid wood tables, winners of the A Seat at the Table competition, promoted by AHEC and Riva 1920, with the aim of offering emerging talents of Italian design a platform to exhibit their ideas.

Read also: from the collaboration between Brdr Krüger and AHEC comes a lounge collection by the Danish master Hans Bølling

Curated and set up by Studio Swine, Forest Tales collects 22 pieces selected from the latest AHEC projects proposed in a spectacular exhibition that emphasizes the quality, beauty and versatility of American hardwood as a material for creating design furniture. The installation is made up of pieces from four projects whose common thread is the natural and sustainable material: each piece is in fact made with one (or more) of the three varieties of underused American hardwood chosen : maple, cherry and red oak.

Forest Tales combines the celebration of the design of the latest AHEC projects, love for wood and a to equilibrium” explains David Venables, director of AHEC Europe. Balance in the way we use natural materials with particular regard to renewable ones, such as wood . The same balance on which designers , as well as the entire sector, are called to reflect in order to face the greatest social and economic question of our time: climate change and the need to end the current throwaway culture. Covid has shown that the world is able to react quickly in the face of a great global crisis, we hope this experience will allow us to make the necessary changes in the way we consume, build and live just as quickly”.

Four projects, three sustainable hardwoods, 22 pieces, 42 designers, between young and established

  • Connected

invited nine world-renowned international designers to create tables and chairs in response to the isolation conditions imposed by the pandemic;

  • Discovered: Designers for Tomorrow

provided a visibility platform to 20 emerging talents of international design;

  • Slow Design for Fast Change

brought together nine young designers from DACH countries to create furniture and objects in the name of sustainability, longevity and craftsmanship;

  • A Seat at the Table

a new collaboration with Riva 1920, a historic Italian firm of design furniture in solid wood, which led to the creation of a contest and the subsequent selection of four emerging Italian designers and their projects with an innovative and sustainable design, for four solid wood tables.

A labyrinthine mountain’ of wooden crates

For Forest Tales , Studio Swine chose a selection of pieces which he then suspended around and above 'a mountain' labyrinthine of wooden crates: a monumental and engaging exhibition project that invites and entices visitors to enter, explore and discover a new perspective on design.

The exhibition is a real whos who of contemporary design. The projects on display include works by established and emerging designers, including the biophilic maple table by Heatherwick Studio , Studio Swine's tribute to Ming dynasty design created in steam-bent red oak, the ingenious glue-free expandable shelving systems of Taiho Shin , the multifunctional table in American cherry with 'smiling shapes' of Jaime Hayon , the stackable stools with Nordic lines by Maria Bruun and the three-wood chair by Simon Gehring that merges computational design and waste of wood creating new effects.

The images scroll across the packing crates (used for transport)

The concept of the installation is inspired by the opening frames of Quarto Potere (Citizen Kane), in which Kane's personal effects are visible among a multitude of wooden crates to be packed. Visitors are faced with an interesting topography of wooden packing crates - the same ones used for the transport of furniture - with the various furnishings displayed above, below and next to them, on different levels. Woven into the installation a series of screens with videos tell the story of the various pieces, the contexts in which they were born and the woods with which they were made. Furthermore, the surfaces of the crates act as canvases on which images of the forest from which the hardwoods come from are reproduced.

Change of perspective

Taking up the idea of the anamorphic perspective , where an image becomes clear only if observed from a specific point of view, each box has been painted to represent a single element of a larger scene, so that when viewed from a certain angle, the images on the speakers come together to form a complete picture. The viewer's perspective with respect to the exhibition therefore changes depending on where he is with the intention of telling different stories as he interacts with the space.

High profile, low impact: a manifesto against waste

All the furnishings presented at the Triennale are carbon-neutral or carbon-negative. Aware that many Milanese exhibitions generate significant amounts of waste, AHEC and Studio Swine were determined to make Forest Tales as efficient as possible from the point of view of materials and as close to zero carbon emissions as possible, and that its sustainability message reaches as many decision makers in the industry as possible.

The installation thus proves to be an appeal for a more thoughtful choice of materials and at the same time a manifesto against waste in the design sector. A change - decisive and effective - of perspective.