HawaExpo 2024: Reinforcing partnerships in trade, design and sustainability with AHEC

Vietnam has always been an important market for the global furniture industry. While it continues to be a key production hub for export markets, domestic demand has burgeoned with a growth in the design savvy middle classes. As the Vietnamese consumer tastes become more sophisticated, local designers have stepped up to meet the market and are making their own waves in South East Asian design culture.

The growth of the HawaExpo is testament to the dynamism of the Vietnam furniture industry. This month, the Expo spanned 56,000m2 across two locations at SECC and White Palace and served as a unique opportunity for makers and designers across the furniture supply chain to congregate, network and collaborate.

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) was pleased to continue its longstanding relationship with partners in Vietnam, especially the Vietnam Handicraft and Wood Industry Association in Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA) and supported a number of activities during HawaExpo.

AHEC booth at HawaExpo 2024


AHEC took the opportunity to deepen relationships with existing trade partners and make new connections. Furniture from the Lifecycles Collection, designed by legendary Singaporean designer Nathan Yong, caught the attention of many and served as a talking point for AHEC to introduce underutilised yet increasingly popular American hardwood species to specifiers, designers and manufacturers.


Rupert Oliver presents a seminar on the EUDR

As part of efforts to help the industry manage the impact of the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) by the end of 2024, Rupert Oliver, AHEC’s environmental policy director gave a seminar on 8 Mar. Oliver outlined the implications of the upcoming legislation. He provided insight into AHEC’s approach to ensure traceability of sustainable materials whilst considering both the needs of the broader industry in addition to the smaller landowners and timber producers.

Thermally modified timber (TMT)

Jarrod Lim presents a seminar on thermally modified timber (TMT)

Designer Jarrod Lim also shared his experiences experimenting with thermally modified American red oak in his designs and the potential for this technology to impact the work of both designers and makers. While the functional benefits of better insect moisture resistance are clear, Lim also shared how his TMT American red oak chair displayed in FIND Singapore garnered interest for its desirable rich aesthetic. Given the abundance of American red oak in the US forest resource, it can provide a cost effective and quality choice for those seeking to expand their repertoire of species.


AHEC also continued its support for emerging Vietnamese designers through the 20th year of the Hoa Mai Design Competition, with American red oak used for all the designs.

John Chan at the Hoa Mai Design Competition awards ceremony
Chan with the winners

John Chan, the regional director for AHEC South East Asia Greater China shared his thoughts at the awards ceremony: “Over the last 20 iterations of this competition I have been constantly impressed at the designers pushing the envelope, while leveraging on local elements in the designs to keep them uniquely Vietnamese. I congratulate the winners of the 2023/2024 and AHEC looks forward to continuing to support the growth of young designers in Vietnam and across South East Asia.”