Jun 05

AHEC’s ‘Three’ Exhibition Showcases the Sustainable Potential of American Hardwoods

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is spearheading a new exhibition that highlights the crucial role of American hardwoods in shaping sustainable design and architecture.

Named ‘Three,’ this groundbreaking event showcases the works of three Nordic designer-makers during the annual 3daysofdesign festival in Copenhagen from June 7th to 9th, 2023. The exhibition aims to demonstrate how material choices made by designers can influence aesthetics, product performance, and broader style trends.

As global supply chain disruptions and the climate crisis necessitate a reevaluation of timber sourcing, AHEC presents a compelling case for the use of American hardwoods, including red oak, cherry, and maple, renowned for their sustainable qualities. While these hardwoods make up 40% of the forest volume in American hardwood forests, they are currently underutilized in the design sector. Each of these woods contributes significantly to forest diversity and sustainability, serving as easily renewable resources and natural carbon stores.

American red oak, the most prevalent hardwood in American forests, boasts attractive open grain and flexibility. With exceptional steam bending properties, it is an ideal choice for furniture and interior applications. American maple, closely related to European maple and sycamore, is a durable timber favored for sports floors worldwide. Its creamy-white appearance, machinability, and smooth finish make it a versatile material. Moreover, American cherry, which ranges in color from pink to reddish brown, darkens with exposure to light. It is well-suited for turning, panelling, and veneer applications, as well as musical instruments and auditoria due to its acoustic properties.

Promoting the possibilities of hardwoods

The ‘Three’ exhibition is designed to promote the immense possibilities offered by these sustainable hardwoods. The show features a trio of designer-makers representing different Nordic countries: Anne Brandhøj from Denmark, Pia Högman from Sweden, and Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng from Norway. Each designer was provided with one hardwood material and given free rein to explore its creative potential in their unique way.

Inner Beauty, by Anne Brandhøj, using American cherry. Photo by Benjamin Lund.

Inner Beauty by Anne Brandhøj (Denmark)

Anne Brandhøj, a Danish designer-maker, produces enigmatic objects that blur the line between function and sculpture. Her designs celebrate the distinct qualities of wood, emphasizing imperfections, knots, and cracks. Brandhøj’s captivating consoles, carved from layers of wood, reveal surprising smooth chasms within their cuboidal volumes. By encouraging tactile exploration, she invites viewers to appreciate the distinct feel and experiences offered by different types of wood.


The Cured Series by Pia Hogman, using American red oak. Photo by Benjamin Lund.

Cured Series by Pia Högman (Sweden)

Pia Högman, with roots in Norrland, Sweden, embarked on a journey to discover the modern applications of birch bark—a traditional material used in her grandfather’s carpentry work. Inspired by the versatility of birch bark, Högman sought to unlock the untapped potential of American red oak, often overshadowed by white oak. Her presentation at ‘Three’ showcases a set of five chairs treated with different finishes, accentuating the open-grained structure of the red oak. Högman aims to challenge existing perceptions and breathe new life into this remarkable hardwood.


Sno Collection, by Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng, using American maple. Photography by Benjamin Lund.

Sno Shelves, Footstool and Stool by Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng (Norway)

Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng, a furniture and homeware designer from Norway, draws inspiration from the wild forest landscapes of her homeland. With a rebellious approach to design, she creates shapes that defy conventional geometries. Øfstedal Eng’s work with American maple has revealed the wood’s striking grain patterns and its ability to form organic, double-curved landscapes. Her trio of furniture objects combines free-form geometries with linear volumes, introducing a fresh perspective on maple’s aesthetic potential.

AHEC’s ‘Three’ exhibition invites visitors to explore the extraordinary possibilities offered by American hardwoods. By showcasing the innovative designs of these three talented designer-makers, AHEC aims to inspire the design industry to embrace sustainable materials and promote the long-term viability of US hardwood forests.

To learn more about the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and their initiatives, please visit their website.

As a proud sponsor of the Wood Awards, AHEC continues to champion excellence in wood design, showcasing the immense possibilities of American hardwoods.