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Design for Global Forestry – AIA Presentation and White Paper Launch

Last Wednesday, October 18th, I presented my newly updated Global Forestry lecture in the AIA’s Centre for Architecture New York as part of Wilsonart’s National Day of Learning.

I am linking here to a review of the lecture from

And here is a link to the survey results and a link to my white paper – Design for Global Forestry.

You can also see a recording of the presentation here.

The responses have been overwhelming and I really believe we are turning the thought leaders of architects and designers on to the concept that trees may be renewable bit forests are not. I am looking forward to bringing this message to larger audiences in 2018.

We must do all we can to protect our global forests.



National Day of Learning – Global Forestry

In a recent national survey conducted by SMS Research Advisors for Wilsonart, 70 percent of architects and designers agree that using responsibly sourced wood materials is a priority. The challenge: 99 percent could not correctly identify the majority of endangered woods from a list they were given. Furthermore, the survey revealed awareness that a wood is endangered does not always prevent usage. Up to 51 percent of endangered wood users are aware that the wood is endangered or threatened, but 40 percent of respondents said they would still specify an endangered wood if their client specifically requested it.

“We learned from this survey that professionals in the industry need to be more informed about the materials they specify,” said Tammy Weadock, Communications Manager at Wilsonart. “The largest knowledge gap exists where it could impact architects and designers the most, in their own practices.” To bridge this deep gap in awareness, knowledge and action in specifying products, Wilsonart is launching Understanding Wood: Sourcing Against the Grain, an educational initiative for architects and designers. The program aims to educate architects and designers not only on how to identify endangered and threatened woods, but to equip them to find alternate materials that meet their aesthetic and functional needs.

“The design community is largely unaware that while trees are renewable, forests are not,” said Weadock. “Aside from the lack of knowledge about specific endangered woods, designers and architects are even less informed about the rules and regulations in protected forests and the logging that happens there. Forty-two percent did not know what makes a forest protected, and only 24 percent were very familiar with the Lacey Act, which makes using responsibly harvested wood not only an ethical choice, but a legal responsibility.” Wilsonart’s program will offer the A&D community CEUs, presentations, educational materials, infographics and a white paper on this critical conservation issue. “We are urging architects and designers to use properly sourced wood materials,” Weadock noted. “This will help save protected forests, endangered wildlife and the very air we breathe.”

Key components of Understanding Wood include:

  • A National Day of Learning. Wilsonart invites architects and designers across the U.S. to join in person or online for a CEU on the topic of Global Forestry and what architects and designers need to know to protect their practices. The CEU will take place October 18, 2017 at The Center for Architecture in NYC and will be livestreamed twice that day so participants outside of NYC can join. The Global Forestry CEU, which is accredited by AIA and IDCEC, will be presented by Grace Jeffers, thought leader, design historian and materials expert, who is known for an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to the study of materials.
  • A Global Forestry White Paper. Knowing how complex this issue is, a white paper has been created to provide the A&D community a comprehensive overview of the subject and steps they can take to protect their practice.
  • A Partnership with the Interlochen Academy of the Arts. Situated on a 1,200-acre campus near Traverse City, Michigan, Interlochen Academy of the Arts is one of America’s premiere arts educational institutions. It draws young people from around the world to study music, theater, dance, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts and comparative arts. Wilsonart has underwritten curriculum exploring “The Art of Ecology,” and “The Ecology of Art.” As part of the course material, artists Daniel McCormick and Mary O’Brien will visit the campus and collaborate with students on art installations within the forests at Interlochen. Additionally, Wilsonart is supporting the transformation of a Red Pine plantation forest, located on the Interlochen campus, into a natural, native forest. Phase one, which takes place in late 2017 and throughout 2018, involves selective thinning of the existing forest and the reintroduction of native species.
  • An Educational Hub. In the fall, 2017, Wilsonart will launch an education hub with all materials developed for the program on The hub will act both as a resource for the A&D community and a gallery of Interlochen students’ blog posts, videos and perspectives about the issue.



Metropolis Magazine on Wilsonart Chair Competition 2017

am delighted that Metropolis Magazine covered our competition at this years ICFF. Please follow the link to their review which opens as follows:

“If there is one object that remains a source of endless fascination for designers, it is undoubtedly the chair. For the past 13 years, the Wilsonart Challenges Student Chair Design Competition has been presenting students across the United States with this ultimate test. Hosted by a different design school each year, the program is both a competition and a yearlong class, during which students are tasked with designing and building a one-of-a-kind chair, while also preparing for a major trade show. Wilsonart supplies the materials and technical expertise; design historian Grace Jeffers oversees the program and provides it with a much-needed historical framework.”

Read the full article here

Cusp 2016 Releases Presentation Video

One of the highlights of my year was speaking at the Cusp conference. Cusp is not a ‘how to design things’ conference. It’s eclectic by design, intended to provoke cross-pollination of ideas and generate new thinking. Attendees enjoy 25+ inspiring and thought-provoking presentations by people who are passionate about designing a better future. Every attendee has the opportunity to see every presentation—there are no breakouts or q+a sessions. You can book a place by clicking here: Cusp 2017.