Great Laminate Article from VLK Architects

Plastic Laminate. We use and see it every day whether we realize it or not, but still the name Plastic Laminate can make you wrinkle your nose in disgust. But why?

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Arborite factory facility in beautiful Montreal! I loved the experience and learned a ton, but I think the most important thing I learned is that using Plastic Laminate and other man-made or “fake” materials isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be a very good thing for a number of reasons. Arborite’s historian and materials expert, Grace Jeffers, gave a very enlightening presentation entitled, Man-made Natural; the Truth about Fake Materials. The presentation basically boiled down to when you should use a “fake” or man-made material vs. the “real” or natural thing.

Read full article here.

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.

ASID SCALE tops off frantic lecture schedule

Grace gave two lectures at The ASID SCALE event last weekend in Oklahoma University. This is ASID’s National Student Summit formerly known as LAUNCH is a one-of-a-kind, multi-day conference for interior design students includes seminars for educators and ASID chapter leaders.

Grace’s Manmade Natural and Global Forestry 101 were very well attended with standing room only for both. The ASID Scale event marked the end of a frantic lecture schedule that started with her appearance in The New York School of Interior Design before flying to Montreal to present to 60 plus IDCEC attendees.

Her next major lecture is in Chicago at the Cabinets & Closets Conference at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Wednesday April 12 and Thursday April 13.  Click here to register.

10 Most Endangered Wood Species – Woodworking Network

treedownMy thanks to Bill Esler, Editor of Woodworking Network for his article covering my research into endangered woods.

You can read his article by clicking here.

I have been lucky enough to be invited to give my Manmade Natural lecture in cities across the US, meeting with architects and designers in their firms. I have asked the same questions regarding their plans for wood into the future.

I am consistently saddened at the lack of awareness that certain woods are endangered and I urge my colleagues to learn more about the woods they plan to recommend. They wouldn’t cover a couch in tiger skin so why would they specify Zebra wood?

I will be writing more about this in the year to come and once again thank you Bill for covering this story.





Primeval Białowieża forest under threat in Poland

European bison in Poland’s Białowieża forest. Photograph: Łukasz Mazurek/

It is one of Europe’s last remaining primeval forests, a last vestige of those that once covered the entire European plain from the Bay of Biscay in the west to the Russian Ural Mountains in the east. It is home to 800 European bison, is an EU Natura 2000 Special Area of Conservation and this forest is a UNESCO designated world heritage site.

You and I might believe this little miracle of survival would stand forever protected from loggers. But we’d be wrong.

Under the guise of harmless beetle the Polish government has authorised the logging of 180,000 cubic metres. National forest director Konrad Tomaszewski outlined the plan to harvest wood in order to halt forest degradation by combating a spruce bark beetle infestation, to protect tourists and rangers from the risk of trees falling on trails.

So why are half the trees cut down to date non-spruce and therefore not affected by this beetle? And why are they worried about a perfectly normal forestry infestation? It is an excuse to rob us of our forestry heritage for profit.

Greenpeace Poland activist Katarzyna Jagiełło said.“The minister does not understand that this insect is a frequent and natural visitor, that it has always existed and the forest has managed to survive,”

A delegation from Unesco visited Białowieża between in June to assess the situation. Luc Bas, the director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which advises the Unesco world heritage committee said that the organisation was receiving “a lot of worrying information” about logging activity in Białowieża.

“The IUCN is planning a mission to Białowieża … to assess the situation and the effect of the new logging plans on the World Heritage site. We would advise that, as a precautionary approach, logging should not be proceeding in the Białowieża forest until there has been an assessment of its implications for its world heritage status,” he said.

Latest Update

The initial IUCN opinion said: “Plans by the Polish government to undertake logging in Bialowieza Forest could disturb the natural ecological processes that are part of the World Heritage values of the site and, if implemented, could provide the basis for listing the site as ‘in danger’ in 2017”.

The IUCN’s Tim Badman told EUobserver: “The World Heritage Convention was established to give the highest level of protection to sites with outstanding universal value, which in the case of Bialowieza includes undisturbed natural processes and the richness of dead wood.”

Read more – Guardian Article

Read more – EU Observer Article


Bill Esler’s Preview of NeoCon Lecture – Global Forestry 101

Please click here to see full article by Bill Esler

Grace Jeffers, a design expert and wood products research specialist, details endangered and non-legal wood species, including Lacey Act protections, in a June 13 presentation at 11:00 a.m. at NeoCon 2016 in Chicago.

New legislation worldwide is cracking down on the purchase and export of threatened, endangered, and illegally sourced wood. Not knowing the facts and legal issues could cause unexpected liabilities for designers, specifiers, and for wood manufacturing firms anywhere along the supply chain.
Jeffers will examine the relationship between wood products, and the forests from which they come, and provide key information resources that will help you rapidly identify threatened and endangered species, and at-risk environments.
In this one-hour session attendees will learn to navigate through tricky territory with confidence, getting the tools to protect clients and their own businessess, as well as to protect our natural resources. Jeffers will also provide options for providing clients the very finest alternatives, latest products, and best design ideas available.
Jeffers has spent several years research the status of endanger tree species. Her wide-ranging presentation will also examine the relationship between individual trees and the forests in which they live. She will also delve into the global registries, such as Cites, used by regulatory agencies around the world, and as reference points for legislation.
Based in New York City, Jeffers lectures frequently on design at colleges and consults for high end clients like Wilsonart and MeadWestvaco. She was part of the creative team that rebranded, revitalized and repopularized the Airstream travel trailers.
More than 40,000 are expected at the commercial furniture and design show, which runs June 13-15 at the Merchandise Mart.
About Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network
Bill is responsible for overall content at, FDMC and Closets magazines and related publications and newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto, WoodPro Expo in Baltimore, and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He develops audience engagement programs using social media, digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites and digital/print content.