AHEC presents new works in American maple as part of the Wallpaper* Class of ’24

The American Hardwood Export Council took part in the Wallpaper* Class of ’24 exhibition at Triennale Milano during Salone del Mobile 2024, presenting new pieces by Parti and Giles Tettey Nartey in American hard maple

AHEC at Class of '24: Parti Pirouette tables and stools
‘Pirouette’ tables and stools by Parti
(Image credit: Jason Yates)

In partnership with AHEC

With a history of collaborating with emerging talent across Europe, AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council) has always demonstrated its strong support of the next generation of creatives. For Milan Design Week, AHEC partnered with Wallpaper* for Class of ‘24, held at Triennale from 16-21 April and showcasing work by emerging creatives working in furniture and product design. 

AHEC worked with designer Giles Tettey Nartey and Eleanor Hill of architecture studio Parti, mentoring and supporting them in the creation of new, ambitious pieces produced by London-based furniture maker Jan Hendzel in American hard maple.

AHEC at Class of '24: Parti and Giles Tettey Nartey

Eleanor Hill of Parti and Giles Tettey Nartey at Jan Hendzel

(Image credit: Dan Medhurst)

'We take immense joy in collaborating with creatives due to the unique opportunities it offers us as an organisation, representing both an industry and a precious natural resource,' says David Venables, AHEC's European Director. 'Over the past two decades, we've cultivated fruitful collaborations with architects and designers to showcase the diverse possibilities of the sustainable timbers we represent.'

American Hard Maple 

American hard maple at Jan Hendzel workshop, London

(Image credit: Dan Medhurst)

For over three decades, AHEC has served as a representative of the US timber industry globally, championing not only the manufacturing possibilities and aesthetic potential of American hardwoods, such as cherry, maple, tulipwood and red oak, but also their sustainable credentials. In fact, part of AHEC’s mission is to support sustainable forestry and promote a widespread use of species, honouring their inherent qualities and imperfections and integrating them within the design process.

The project focuses on American hard maple, a predominantly creamy-white, hard-wearing and versatile timber, which can be machined and polished to a smooth finish. The timber’s density makes it an ideal candidate for the creation of sculptural forms, something Parti and Nartey embraced in their projects. Hard maple makes up seven per cent of the hardwood growing stock in North America, its volume increasing by around eight million cubic metres each year.

‘The relentless pursuit of ever-changing trends has led to overexploitation of certain wood species, disregarding the rich diversity of natural resources available,’ adds Venables. ‘Moreover, trends that prioritise flawless, uniform appearances incentivise practices that may compromise the integrity and resilience of forests and ecosystems.’

‘Communion’ by Giles Tettey Nartey

For ‘Communion’, British-Ghanaian Nartey was inspired by his heritage, taking the commission as an opportunity to explore culture, culinary tradition, and the rituals of domestic life in Ghana. ‘Communion’ is a large-scale table, conceived as a sculptural piece that serves the making of fufu, a West African food made by pounding cassava and plantain into a dough. It’s a mundane act that becomes a communal performance where everyone comes together in the shared experience of making food. 

AHEC at Class of '24: Giles Tettey Nartey

(Image credit: Dan Medhurst)

Nartey’s design is characterised by a dark stain, and features five workstations with mortars and pestles that have been expertly sculpted through carving and turning on the lathe. A combination of woodworking techniques by Hendzel has enabled the piece to convey the vast spectrum of the maple’s grain. The table includes an outer table for food preparation and an inner table with CNC-carved grooves, bowls and bumps for serving and dining. Seating around the table is inspired by both traditional Ashanti stools and typical kitchen stools found in Ghana.

‘The piece celebrates a practice that is so local to West Africa, presented in a new way, which gives emphasis to the “communal” by allowing multiple people to participate in the process of making fufu,’ says Nartey. ‘The everyday local ritual is therefore transformed into performance, exposing the beauty I have always seen in everyday Ghanaian life.’

‘Pirouette’ by Parti 

AHEC at Class of '24: Parti Pirouette tables and stools

(Image credit: Jason Yates)

Parti, meanwhile, created the 'Pirouette' collection, a range of tables and stools that capture a sense of movement to convey the joyful feeling of spinning around. The timber here is sculpted to resemble fabric, and to achieve this effect the fabrication pushed the boundaries of three-axis CNC machining combined with traditional woodworking techniques. Carefully considered geometric curves have been sculpted out of laminated boards of American hard maple in Hendzel’s workshop, with the resulting forms appearing almost frozen in movement thanks to the layered wood and the richness of its grain.

AHEC at Class of '24: Parti Pirouette tables and stools

(Image credit: Jason Yates)

‘At Parti, we are very interested in utilising new technologies and processes, and pushing them to the limit.’ says Hill. ‘The making process informs the constraints and opportunities of the design, and is integral to final expression.’

‘Communion’ and ‘Pirouette’ are part of the Wallpaper* Class of ’24, on view during Salone del Mobile, from 16-21 April 2024

Triennale Milano
Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6
20121 Milano


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.