Seven UAE designers create ‘something to sit on’ using American hardwoods

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), an international trade association for the American hardwood industry, is collaborating with seven UAE-based designers for its ‘Seed to Seat’ project that will be unveiled at the 2017 Design Days Dubai.

Sketch by Anna Szonyi.

The designers have been given an open brief and asked to design ‘something to sit on’. The piece will  be made from a selection of four American hardwood species: American cherry, tulipwood, soft maple or red oak.

Sketch by Bruce Paget.

The designers involved include Anna Szonyi, Bruce Paget (Heriot-Watt University Dubai), Fadi Sarieddine, George Kahler, Pallavi Dean, Hana Akram and Tarik Zaharna.

With Seed to Seat, AHEC aims to identify the true environmental impact of design and build on its extensive work with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Sketch by Fadi Sarieddine.

According to Roderick Wiles, AHEC regional D=director, the word ‘sustainable’ has almost become design rhetoric. Whilst many well-intentioned designers claim sustainability in their approach to their work, there is often little solid evidence to support them in making those claims.

Sketch by George Kahler.

During the manufacturing process and incorporating data from AHEC’s LCA research for 19 American hardwood species, all materials, energy usage, transport and wastage will be recorded to assess the full environmental impact for each finished piece.

Life Cycle Assessment is a scientific tool that helps industry to establish environmental frameworks that have real meaning and assess true sustainability. The result will present the cradle-to-factory gate impact of creating each design across six categories. The most topical impact category is global warming potential (GWP), or carbon footprint.

Sketch by Hanna Akram.

“We’ve seen for a long time that the Middle East has a real commitment to sustainable design in principle and through this project we can demonstrate what that means in reality – an opportunity for us to show, and learn, what works and what design elements make a difference to the environment,” said Roderick Wiles.

Sketch by Pallavi Dean.


“In addition, we have also developed a microsite for the project, which is now live at This will be the hub for all information regarding the project and currently includes details regarding the designers.”

Sketch by Tarik Al Zaharna.

The project in the Middle East is the second phase of ‘Seed to Seat’, which was initially launched in Australia and New Zealand last year. AHEC worked with six designers, who were given the same open brief, and their designs were on display at Denfair, which took place in Melbourne from June 2 – 4, 2016.

Dubai Design Days will take place from March 14 – 17, at the Dubai Design District.