The Preservation Bench in American oak to make its India debut this summer

Houtlander and AHEC collaborative installation to go on display at Index
Mumbai and Delhi

A collaboration first presented in 2019 by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and Houtlander is making its way to Mumbai and Delhi this summer as part of Index - a leading interior design exhibition that has been held annually for the past 30 years. ‘The Preservation Bench’, a collaborative installation in American white oak between Houtlander and AHEC, the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, will be on display at Index Mumbai (June 4 - 7) and Delhi (July 24 - 26). Houtlander will also showcase its award-winning ‘Interdependence Two’ bench, a twisted slatted seat for two people to sit intimately facing each other, at the shows.

The Preservation Bench, in thermally-modified American red oak, was first presented at 100% Design South Africa in August last year and then recreated in American white oak for Downtown Design Dubai, which ran from November 12 - 15, 2019. The piece going to India was built in American white oak since it is intended to remain indoors. Known for its modern take on spindle furniture, the two designers re-worked their signature style to celebrate the sapling growing from the forest floor, seeking the light and growing up towards the canopy. Three grounded benches in American white oak curve into one gravity-defying twisted form that seemingly disappears into the air.

“AHEC’s participation at Index Mumbai and Delhi follows an extremely successful showing of the Preservation Bench at Downtown Design Dubai last year. We are confident that visitors will appreciate the beauty of Houtlander’s design, which incorporates American white oak and is a masterpiece in timber design and craftsmanship. With a minimal environmental footprint, which speaks to the inspiration behind it, we hope this unique commission will inspire the next generation of furniture designers and specifiers in India whilst demonstrating the versatility and beauty of American hardwoods and the ability to push the limits of the material,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.

According to Houtlander, no other material that furniture is made out of can claim to be carbon negative. The bench therefore is a visual representation of the furniture ‘coming out of the air’ and meant to suggest the form and function of a park tree with a bench offering some shade. The bench is an expression of the fact that the material being used comes out of the air - it is carbon which has been absorbed out of the air by the living forest and converted into timber. AHEC has calculated that all the white oak used to make the bench would be replaced through natural regeneration in the U.S. hardwood forest in less than 1 second and, while in use, the Preservation Bench will keep 733 kg of CO2 equivalent out of the atmosphere.

“Our collaboration with Houtlander has resulted in a fascinating approach to working with an age-old material. This unique exercise has not only thrown the spotlight on the beauty of American white oak, but it has also helped in increasing the understanding of the material for the designers involved with this project. Celebrating the versatility of timber in design and the enormous variety that can be achieved with one material, the Preservation Bench demonstrates the performance potential of sustainable American hardwoods. By showcasing the bench at Index, we want to ignite new thinking and excite designers about new ways to use wood, particularly underutilized, yet widely-available American hardwoods,” concluded Wiles.