By celebrating the use of wood in its many different forms, the Wood Awards aim to encourage a greater understanding and appreciation of this beautiful and renewable resource. Each year, the awards and exhibition provide an opportunity to recognise the outstanding achievements of designers, students and workshops exploring ways of using this unique material.
This year, our fourteen shortlisted furniture and product design items each tell a powerful story about the possibilities of wood, showing how designers and makers are elevating underused materials and designing for adaptability, efficiency and reuse. They express the poetic potential of the delicate strength and structural intricacy of wood.
Amongst the selected Bespoke entries, the boundaries of form and function are explored with passion, critical enquiry and execution. From the aptly named The Sound of Wood, to the Axis Table, Ash Bushel Basket, and Lace Oak Natural Edge Bowl, each has a unique take on the possibilities of wood, as do the investigative Mixed-Deciduous Beam, and Serenade, a functional object of intelligent design and making – these distinctive projects are unified in their intellectual rigour and material process.
The impressive skill and vision of the Production projects show how individual designers and small workshops are bringing momentum and energy to our production industry. Whether through Grain pushing material boundaries with their lamps made from storm-fallen or surgeon-felled ash, COTTO’s Kyora Board celebrating natural materiality in their unique wooden rockers, or The Exchange Tables and Chairs, which created over 100 chairs with only four days of skill sharing, in an inspiring demonstration of how woodwork can build community as much as products.
Finally, it is exciting and gratifying to see such a number of high quality student entries to this year’s Wood Awards. The quality and imagination of their work as well as their making abilities provide us with great hope for the future of both bespoke and production made furniture and product design in the UK. The student category winner Rocaille Mirror demonstrated extraordinary ability and hand skill, the singular vision of this piece is an exemplar of the versatility and creative possibilities of wood.
Selecting winners was a difficult task. Our congratulations to the winners, who represent the very best of contemporary wood design and making in 2023. However, the designers of all the projects that made it on to the shortlist should be incredibly proud of their achievements. The quality and quantity of entries increases year-on-year.
Finally, I would like to thank my fellow judges for giving their time and expertise so generously, and also to the organisers, particularly for another stellar exhibition at London Design Festival earlier this year.
Corinne Julius, Chair of Furniture and Product Panel