Developed by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) in collaboration with Disegno, the quarterly design magazine, Words on Wood is a podcast taking an in-depth look at some of the big issues surrounding forests and our relationship with them, exploring how management decisions and the use of Hardwood products affect our society. Season Two, available now on Spotify, Apple podcasts, americanhardwood.org, and other podcast services, explores topics like advances in timber construction, new woodworking technologies, rediscovering traditional woodworking methods, and georeferencing a Hardwood sample to trace its origin with World Forest ID. There are also bitesize “Tree Shorts” focusing on unique properties and uses for a variety of U.S. Hardwood species.
Each 30-minute Words on Wood episode focuses in-depth on a unique aspect of the forest and serves as a platform for interdisciplinary discussion. Drawing on the work of scientists, conservationists, forestry professionals, academics, designers and architects, Words on Wood is a space for candid reflection on the challenges and opportunities of working with forests.
Each episode is built around in-depth interviews with experts in their field. In Season One, Designers and architects like Formafantasma, Waugh Thistleton, dRMM and Asif Khan reflect on their work with forests and wood alongside academics and forestry practitioners such as Dr. Galina Churkina of the Potsdam Institute for Change Impact Research Climate, Dr. Constance McDermott, from the University of Oxford, and Rupert Oliver, technical consultant to the EU’s FLEGT scheme to tackle illegal logging.
In Season Two, engineer Andrew Lawrence and architect Lina Ghotmeh discuss the complexities of timber in construction and the future of tall timber buildings; designers Sam Hecht, Yves Béhar and Elissa Brunato explore new processes, forms, and techniques making wood a cutting-edge material; designer Stephen Burks and Orhan Niksic of Bosnian furniture brand Zanat talk about their approaches towards traditional woodworking methods; and Phil Guillery, Jade Saunders and Victor Deklerk from Kew Gardens, one of the leading botanical research centers on the planet, dive into the new technology making it possible to determine the harvest location of a sample of wood.
Weaved together by podcast hosts Oli Stratford of Disegno, Kristina Rapacki (Season One) and India Block (Season Two), these interviews offer multiple perspectives on how we can relate to and understand forests and the products we make from them. Offering expert science and analysis, along with industry insights and concrete design proposals, Words on Wood provides an accessible path to understanding the global forces shaping our environment.
In all, there are now eight Words on Wood episodes:
S1 E1: Welcome to the Forest – the fundamental issues surrounding forests, and how these impact upon the timber that eventually ends up in buildings, products and furniture, with guests Sebastian Cox and Jameson French.
S1 E2: The Carbon Sink – the significance of forests to climate change, their role in reducing carbon in the atmosphere, and the importance of carbon sequestration for architecture and product design, with guests Andrew Waugh, Galina Churkina and Sean Sutcliffe.
S1 E3: Illegal Logging – the challenges facing the design and timber industries to cut out illegal logging, and how architects and designers can respond, with guests Formafantasma, Constance McDermott and Rupert Oliver.
S1 E4: Wood and Wellbeing – the opportunities to use timber within design and architecture to improve our mental wellbeing and physical health, with guests Asif Khan and Alex de Rijke.
S2 E1: Building with Timber – how timber construction, experimental uses of wood and cellulose, a worldwide timber tracing network, and sustainability of buildings with engineer Andrew Lawrence and architect Lina Ghotmeh.
S2 E2: New Wood Technologies – an ancient material provides designers with new processes, forms and techniques, with designers Sam Hecht, Yves Béhar and Elissa Brunato.
S2 E3: Old Crafts, New Ways – the traditional craft processes fueling contemporary modes of expression in woodworking design, with guests Stephen Burks and Orhan Niksic.
S2 E4: The World Forest ID – the scientific solution to combat illegal logging and trace harvest origin from an end product, with guests Phil Guillery, Jade Saunders and Victor Deklerk. I encourage you to listen to an episode during your next walk, drive, or lunch break, and share with friends both in and outside of the Hardwood industry to spread the word about the global benefits of working forests. You can listen to Words on Wood, and subscribe to the podcast, on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and americanhardwood.org.