Functional Art in Isolation: AHEC Showcases Emerging Designers Through Discovered in London

September 22, 2021



Peaches Garcia

AHEC and Wallpaper* magazine present up-and-coming creatives from all over the world in a showcase of objects made with different types of wood

Being in isolation, away from all of our friends and family, may seem like the worst thing possible. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean good things can’t come out of it. During this period, we get the chance to think more creatively about how each day can be different from the other. For creatives, we now see things through different lenses as we have become more imaginative in isolation.

Through the collaboration of American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and Wallpaper* magazine, Discovered, a showcase that presents a series of personal reflections on the artist’s experience of the pandemic, provides a platform for the splendid designs of new creatives from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australasia. The artists all worked alongside design mentors and AHEC’s global manufacturing partners towards the creation of new and unique objects made from their own choice of the four sustainable hardwoods: American red oak, cherry, and hard and soft maple. Their finished products that came about from their personal experience of living and working in isolation, responding to the themes of touch, reflection, and strength, are all being hosted at the Design Museum in London, England throughout the month of September.

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Thought Bubble

Designed by Nong Chotipatoomwan of Bangkok, Thailand, Thought Bubble was guided by the nostalgia brought about by past travels and social interaction. She thought of creating a rocking chair that exudes the definition of relaxation as its repetitive movement also enhances true mindfulness. For her piece, she used American red oak because of her fascination with its grain. She even says, “It’s quite expressive, and I was interested in its porous nature.”

Corners Lamp

Also from the capital of the Land of the Free, Mew Mungnatee created a piece that presents her emotional response to the objects surrounding her. Her lamp design called Corners Lamp shows the relationship between form, light, and shadow as she explored the connection of the three through the beautiful art of geometry. She also decided to work with American soft maple because of how light bounces off its surface, and American cherry due to its ability to take stain.

The Roof Stool

Inspired by traditional Vietnamese roof tiles, Trang Nguyen of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam created a set of nesting tools called The Roof Stool that replicate how the connecting structures below the tiles are hidden when overlapped. She also featured the look of traditional temple architecture and Vietnamese dresses, as well as pins that were made of contrasting wood that remain hidden whenever the stools are stacked on top of each other. Because of the difference in color, she chose three different types of wood, namely American cherry, red oak, and maple for variety in its overall appearance.

Winding Stream

Incorporating a Chinese drinking custom called Winding Stream Party where poetry is composed while a cup is floated down a stream with people sitting on both sides, Yunhan Wang of Zhuhai, China created Winding Stream, a home table that provided the same purpose as we have adapted to the current situation of being indoors for the majority of the day. Made with American hard maple, its compact design with hidden storage in the legs is also equipped with a drain so users are free to easily dispose water.


Tan Wei Xiang of Singapore thought of a way to create a piece of furniture with the purpose of fighting nostalgia during these extraordinary times. Recollect, a keepsake cabinet made with American hard maple and red oak to achieve the crinkle-like effect on the shell as well as the curved shelves inside, is a way to hold, preserve, and give respect to the items we hold near and dear to our hearts.

To know more about AHEC and Website* magazine’s Discovered and the rest of the designers that were presented, visit the showcase’s official website.

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