Wallpaper* and AHEC announce a new initiative to support design’s next generation

Designers will be offered a platform to conceive, create and manufacture a new piece of furniture or object inspired by life in a pandemic world

(Image credit: TBC)

Wallpaper* and American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) announce Discovered, a new project to support and promote the work of 20 international designers from 16 countries.

Presenting Discovered 

Launching this week, Discovered offers a platform to a roster of next generation talent during these challenging times. Each designer will have the opportunity to create a new object or piece of furniture, which will then be produced by one of AHEC’s global manufacturing partners and shown at the Design Museum in London, in June 2021. The project will offer both an opportunity for the creative studios to (virtually) access a world-class manufacturing environment, as well as a chance to express their experience of working in isolation.    Concepts of touch, reflection and strength will guide the designers’ work, responding to the need for our everyday objects to combat isolation and help us reconnect in a pandemic-hit, increasingly virtual world. The international group was selected from Wallpaper’s annual Graduate Directories as well as its creative community at large, and through AHEC’s own network. Together, the participants represent a promising, hopeful new design generation. ‘We are really excited to be collaborating with Wallpaper* to engage and inspire the next generation of talented young designers,’ says David Venables, AHEC’s European director. ‘This project will enable us to give them an extremely valuable learning experience on product design and development with wood.’

The design process

Each designer is invited to think freely about their experience of isolation, and to create a piece inspired by the functional and emotional connections we have to our everyday objects. AHEC has selected three high performance hardwoods; American maple, red oak and cherry for the designers to work with. ‘We are continuing our focus on three of our most relevant species, which make a really important contribution to the long-term sustainability of the American hardwood forest resource, and could and should be much more widely used by design communities across the globe,’ continues Venables. All chosen woods offer great possibilities for furniture design, and the project brief will challenge the studios to experiment with the material from both a design and manufacturing perspective. 
The group will be supported and mentored throughout the project by Wallpaper* editor-in-chief Sarah Douglas and by Venables, as well as a global group of designers, makers and design entrepreneurs. ‘This is a time when the next generation needs support more than ever,’ says Douglas. ‘So we are honoured to partner with AHEC in launching Discovered – to ensure the designers of tomorrow have the platform they deserve.’

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.