AHEC unveils ‘office of the future’ at Milan’s Salone del Mobile

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is showcasing the ‘office of the future’ at the Wallpaper Handmade Exhibition, which opened on Tuesday as part of Salone del Mobile in Milan.

AHEC, the international trade association for the American hardwood industry, was invited to collaborate with Wallpaper and architect Adam Khan to rethink the modern workplace and present a radical new vision of how and where people should spend their working lives.

The result is a striking timber striking timber composition, ‘Octopus’, which defines, divides and connects various work zones and a section of this is being displayed at the Leclettico Gallery until April 13.

Working closely with UK-based sculptor and fabricator Adam Kershaw, Khan has created Octopus, which combines natural and heat-treated American tulipwood with American maple flooring in his design to create a warm, rich work environment.

According to Khan, the space was designed for a generic open-floor plan to concentrate the space around it. The piece hovers between furniture and construction and the spaces are defined by veil-like layers of light and dark fine tulipwood.

In addition, the natural colour variations in the tulipwood create a dramatic marbled effect, which contrasts with the dark heat-treated timber, a material designed for exterior use but also used internally to provide a darker finish.

The project also involved Adam Kershaw, whose role as the fabricator was to maintain the visual simplicity. Kershaw added: “Adam Khan’s structure is simple to the eye but was complex to make. The walls appear to be standing unsupported but are held up by the central sub floor and ceiling which help to create a solid structure.”

Aside from the structural complexity, a high number man-hours were required to achieve the seamless finish. The finished structure consists of 179 vertical pieces and each one was sanded and finished by hand, totaling 3km of edges and 6km of corners to sand.

Commenting on thermally-modified American hardwoods, Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania, said: “Somewhat limited availability may be a constraining factor for the immediate future, but this is changing very quickly, as producers adopt the technology across the United States, Canada and also in Europe and Asia.

“Its consistent rich brown colour, its dimensional stability, resistance to decay and its environmental credentials all point to it being one of the most exciting new products the wood industry has been able to offer in recent years.”