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Rycotewood students create sustainable storage from American red oak

Rycotewood Furniture at Activate Learning’s City of Oxford College, one of the United Kingdom’s most-respected furniture making programmes, has collaborated with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) to produce a series of storage pieces out of American red oak.

The project was originally conceived as a way to introduce students to red oak as a new material. AHEC donated two cubic feet of red oak per student to the college and set 10 of the school’s Year 2 Foundation students a brief to create a storage solution using this versatile material. The students were tasked with using the material as efficiently and creatively as possible, making the most of its natural characteristics. They were also asked to record all material and energy use so that the environmental impacts of each piece could be calculated using the Life Cycle Assessment method.

Acclaimed UK furniture designer and maker Philip Koomen oversaw the project and mentored the students with design tutorials throughout. As an addition to the brief, Koomen asked the students to reference artists, sculptors or architects as an inspiration for their work.

"The students have responded enthusiastically to this environmental brief. Their willingness to be adventurous and take creative risks has produced very innovative designs," says Koomen. “I’m very impressed with the results. There is a lot of thought and good craftsmanship in these pieces.”

All photos credit: AHEC/ Ben Tynegate