“An Inspiring Project”
Things have calmed down a little at Benchmark since the RCA project “The Lives and Loves of Hardwood Chairs” has come to an end. To recap, the project was a collaboration with AHEC that involved students designing and making a chair and evaluating its ‘cradle to grave’ environmental impact through Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). LCA is a measurement of an object’s environmental impact giving it a rating so that consumers can make informed choices about what they consume.
It was a fantastic experience for everyone involved and tremendously exciting to be part of such forward thinking environmental research . Here are some words from designer and maker, Sebastian Cox, who was invited to join the project to help organise the week of making, advise the students on their projects from a manufacturing perspective, order the materials and ensure we were well prepared for the students’ arrival.
“The week itself was fantastic. We began with a briefing of the expert makers before the students arrived, who were Mike Bradley – a renowned woodturner, Will Reed – an expert boatbuilder, Pete and Mark from Benchmark, my good chum and skilled maker Liam Treanor, and myself. I had a really good feeling about the team of makers, and we assigned between two and three chair projects to each maker.
The students were diligent in recording the times of the machinery use, and their material usage and wastage, even down to grams of glue and millilitres of lacquer. The absolute key to the success of the projects was not how the chairs looked, but the data acquired for each project. And what a range a diverse projects there were – from a simple felled tree carved with a chainsaw, to a super-lightweight disposable stool, to a floating chair (a boat), and a 4metre long bench made of 5mm thick timber strips.
As diverse as the projects were, the students were too. Some were very capable with the tools and machinery, and only needed a little guidance and advice on how to make their pieces, others had designed projects that were technically very advanced and required a lot of one-on-one tuition. As usual, I enjoyed tutoring at all levels and found the whole week really rewarding. I couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring project – an environmental making project with some very prestigious institutions”