A Seat at the Table: An AHEC award on sustainable design

Alter Ego by Ilenia Viscardi (Image: Petr Krejci)

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has announced four winners of the award, A Seat at the Table, launched in January 2022 with Riva 1920. The award aims to bring a new generation of designers committed to sustainable design, that is more attentive to environmental impact and the entire product lifecycle, into the limelight.

According to AHEC, the four awarded designers experimented with the aesthetic and functional characteristics of three high-performing but under-utilised species of American hardwood: American cherry, red oak and maple.

First, there is Alter Ego by Ilenia Viscardi, which is a solid table in which everything contributes to giving life to shapes and materials, without any one element prevailing over another. The designer opted for American maple as its light colour with golden hues enhances the sculptural appearance of the design.

Libra by Federico Degioanni was developed in American red oak with an eye to highlighting the strong connection with nature. Lightness, elegance of line and dynamism are the keywords of Libra, which presents itself as a useful and versatile table for many environments.

Navalia by Matteo Benedetti is made ‘via di levare’, which means blocks of wood are carved and refined until the final shape is achieved. The table is crafted with American red oak.

And lastly, Morso by Alessandro Gazzardi, inspired by traditional carpentry, is a table with simple workmanship, which can be assembled completely by hand, without the use of tools. The table is made with American cherry.

David Venables, director of AHEC Europe, commented: “This project challenges the assumption that the best-known wood varieties are always the only ‘right’ woods to use and showcases three underused and beautiful woods that make up 40% of the American hardwood forests.”

Maurizio Riva, CEO of Riva 1920, added: “As the iconic piece for this project, we chose the table, whose volumes allow the three varieties of wood to be displayed in all the beauty of their textures. One of the factors that emerged during the pandemic is in fact the tendency of the design ecosystem to focus on a restricted range of woods.

“It is important that designers and architects also start to embrace new types of wood so that the whole sector converges towards a more sustainable management of resources, and to accompany the public’s taste in this direction.”

Riva 1920 is an Italian company that has been producing design furniture in solid wood with low environmental impact for more than 100 years.

Libra by Federico Degioanni (Image: Petr Krejci)
Navalia by Matteo Benedetti (Image: Petr Krejci)
Morso by Alessandro Gazzardi (Image: Petr Krejci)