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Design 21 Announces Winner of Going With the Grain
Charlie Davidson, is the winner of its Going With the Grain Challenge for his ingenious "Uni Table" design.

NEW YORK.- Wood is one of our most precious resources. Yet deforestation claims 32 million acres of woodlands every year, upsetting the balance of ecosystems around the world. Going With the Grain was conceived by DESIGN 21 members The Nature Conservancy and Forest Stewardship Council-US to spotlight the role of designers in protecting our environment’s natural resources by choosing responsibly sourced wood in their creations. After posing a difficult challenge to its global base of more than 20,000 designers – to create an object made from a single sheet of FSC-certified plywood without the use of hardware or glue – DESIGN 21: Social Design Network is happy to unveil the winning design, which will be manufactured by EcoSystems.

According to Sara Elliott, Project Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Design for a Living World project, “We are delighted with the number and quality of entries, which we believe demonstrates a groundswell of interest in sustainability within the design community.” The challenge was open to all designers including furniture and industrial designers, manufacturers, and architects to create an original, functional and aesthetically appealing object made from a single sheet of FSC-certified plywood (measuring 4’ x 8’ x 1”). “It was very exciting for us to host a challenge where designers could test their ideas beyond a work on paper and build a tangible product,” notes DESIGN 21 founder Haruko Smith. “The finalists’ designs are not only beautiful and ingenious, they each represent a sincere effort that respects this project's goal and shows how a sheet of FSC wood can inspire amazing designs.”

A panel of leaders in the sustainability movement and design industry including George Beylerian, Ellen Lupton, Andrew Personette, Sara Elliott and Ezri Tarazi were responsible for judging the Going With the Grain challenge. After reviewing 231 entries from nearly 30 countries, the judges selected Swedish furniture designer, Charlie Davidson, as the overall winner for his “Uni Table” design. According to the judges, “Mr. Davidson really thought about how the table would be made and assembled, including the puzzle-shaped key detail and accommodating the router bit in the shape of the cut-outs so that the table top sits flush to the legs.” Adding, “The table is deceptively simple and beautifully detailed for tool-free assembly, making good use of the alpha connectors." As the winner, Davidson will receive a one-year membership to Material Connexion and a manufactured sample of his design. A prototype of the “Uni Table” will also be auctioned to support The Nature Conservancy’s sustainable forestry work.

Seven designers were also awarded with Honorable Mentions and will receive a copy of Design for a Living World, the book companion to The Nature Conservancy’s traveling exhibit that features sustainable natural materials from around the globe. Those selected include: Alessandro Columbano for “Habitat of Plywood Twigs”; Ben Huggins for “Little Star”; Brian Hamilton for “Swollen Surface”; Brendan Ravenhill for “Notch Table”; Damian Barton for Hyperpolic Parabaloid Lounger”; Christine Yogiaman for “Wooble”; and D.E. Sellers for “Single Panel 2, Bookcase.”

“Deforestation and illegal logging are taking a huge toll on our planet, wildlife, and communities,” says Corey Brinkema, president of Forest Stewardship Council-US. “But as consumers, we can help end destructive forest practices by purchasing FSC-certified wood and paper products.” Adding, “We commend DESIGN 21 and all of the designers around the world who, by participating in this challenge, are helping to spread the message that FSC is good for forests and people – and that consumers can make a difference.” In addition, Andrew Personette, Executive Director of EcoSystems, notes, “Because of the quality and breadth of submissions, we will be exploring the potential to offer select submissions as the Going With The Grain Challenge collection.

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