The UK Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has launched a competition for designers, architects and craftspeople to create furniture, sculptures, interior design and other functional products using exclusively tropical timber from FLEGT VPA partner countries. The design contest, being run in association with the London Building Centre, is called Conversations about climate change and forms part of the TTF’s pan-European FLEGT communication drive. This aims to raise the market profile of the initiative and awareness of its wider impacts on the ground in supplier countries and is funded by the UK Department for International Development under its Forest Governance, Markets and Climate programme.
The challenge to entrants is to develop products that score on aesthetics and technical performance. But they must also be ‘conversation pieces’ that stimulate discussion around the role of forests and wood in mitigating climate change and the role of FLEGT in ensuring legal and sustainable forestry and timber supply.
“Sustainably forested timber is an essential part of the solution to emission reduction needed for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, but tropical forests have often been undervalued and forest land cleared for other uses,” said Lucy Bedry, TTF FLEGT Communications Executive. “The EU/UK FLEGT initiative helps combat illegal logging, subsequent illegal timber trade and deforestation. In return for aid and technical support, VPA partner tropical forest countries overhaul legal and regulatory governance frameworks to introduce forest monitoring, auditing, multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement with local communities. This landmark shift in governance and procurement means FLEGT-licensed timber is safe, legal and sustainable.”
Conversations about climate change, she added, is asking designers to respond to these issues and developments, to ‘think about the materials they usually work with, and to consider how their role as specifiers is vital for implementing change’.
“Designs should stimulate conversation about material provenance and its place in the climate debate, while revealing the aesthetic qualities of the palette of tropical hardwoods species selected,” she said.
The TTF expects most entrants to come from Europe, but the competition, is also open to designers worldwide, including in VPA partner countries. In fact, there has already been interest from Indonesia.
“Depending on whether they are purely designers or designer makers, they can send in plans, drawings or models. Photographs of finished articles entered that fit the brief but not selected as the winners, will be also be included in a shortlisted exhibition” said Ms Bedry.
All the timber for UK entrants and for fabricating winning entries from outside the UK and from non-designer makers will be supplied by TTF members, who all operate under its Responsible Procurement Policy.
Factsheets on all the species are for entrants are posted on the competition website, as are a range of articles and videos about the FLEGT initiative. Among other topics, these look at the social, environmental and economic impacts of FLEGT VPAs and how they contribute to timber and forest management sustainability.
The deadline for entries is August 24 and the six winners will be announced in early September, after which they will all be fabricated either by the designer themselves or a UK-based workshop.
“The hope is that the finished pieces will then form an exhibition in the Building Centre in central London at the beginning of November, the date when the postponed UN COP26 Climate Change Conference was due to take place in Glasgow,” said Ms Bedry. “If lockdown rules or social distancing guidelines make this impossible, we will have an online exhibition, with the physical event held in the first quarter of 2021.”
Following the exhibition, the TTF will also look to display the winning designs in prominent locations, such as the Indonesian UK embassy, or the Dfid building in London. It will also offer them to be shown elsewhere in Europe.
As part of its FLEGT communications, the TTF is additionally developing an e-learning resource, designed for timber and timber end using and specification sectors.
“This will feature a range of modules around different aspects of the FLEGT initiative,” said Ms Bedry. “It will include input from stakeholders in FLEGT VPA partner countries, and also film and a webinar on Conversations about climate change.”
Submission forms for the competition can be downloaded from the website.