A wall full of surprises

‘Too Good to Waste’, an interactive installation designed by Ms. Benedetta Tagliabue of EMBT, crafted by furniture makers Benchmark, and initiated by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) opened in April at the Università degli Studi di Milano.

On display as part of Salone del Mobile Milano 2017, the bold timber installation comprises four individual and unique pieces, wrapped around the statuesque pillars of the entrance to the Aula Magna auditorium, transforming at the hand of visitors to reveal hidden pieces of fine furniture.

“We wanted to re-create this concept in a playful and modern way by creating a wall full of surprises, where the people who inhabit the wall will be real,” said Benedetta.

Made from American Red Oak, soft maple, Cherry and Tulipwood, ‘Too Good to Waste’ seeks to question the validity of the current relationship between wood consumption and fashion.

Contrary to popular perception, not all forests are disappearing. In fact, the vast American hardwood forest is a quickly expanding resource and the volume of its standing timber has more than doubled in the last 50 years. However, due to fashion and colour trends, demand is too often focused on just a few species, while many others are underused or left in the forest, which is a lost opportunity for both design and carbon storage.

According to AHEC, ‘Too Good to Waste’ is an invitation to reflect on the responsible use of these forests and to discover species and grades of American hardwoods rarely found in homes or furniture stores in Europe, but that need to be considered if we want to contribute to a balanced and sustainable use of the forest.

“We are using species that are not getting the value they should. We are now using knots, sapwood and all sorts of character that 10 years ago would have been unthinkable in high end furniture and expressing it in a way that says ‘This is beautiful, look, it is too good to waste!’” remarks Mr. Sean Sutcliffe, co-founder of Benchmark .

This project is not only a celebration of all varieties of species and grades of American hardwood, but also an invitation to discover the piece in the most literal sense: users are encouraged to touch and inhabit this piece, to interact and play with it, opening its different components by pushing, pulling, swivelling and discovering new configurations.

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