Swedish Wood Design Competition Winners Announced

The announcement of the winners in the “Swedish Wood Student Design Challenge 2016”, which was initiated by the industry body Swedish Wood in partnership with the American University in Dubai (AUD) took place recently. The challenge was to create an innovative and functional item of furniture for a hotel lobby using Swedish pine and spruce wood.


Following the tremendous success of the first edition of Swedish Wood Meets Arabia, this second Swedish Wood Student Design Challenge was organised by Swedish Wood in partnership with AUD with the grand prize of a study trip to Sweden in June.


“The Middle East and North Africa is an important region for Swedish exports of wood products. The design challenge in Dubai is a way to educate tomorrow’s designers in the region about Swedish wood, which is very much a material for our age due to its eco-friendly and natural profile. The design students also gained practical experience of the material’s high quality, strength and versatility,” says Charlotte Dedye Apelgren, Director of Interior and Design at Swedish Wood.


Since March 2016, eitheen teams of students have been working intensively on the project that saw a unique collaboration between students enrolled in Furniture Design and Hospitality Design courses at AUD. Three teams were selected to manufacture their designed furniture in collaboration with two identified contractors: BOND Interiors and Impact Studio. Swedish Wood once again provided a stock of raw material of fine Swedish pine and spruce for the projects.


The executive jury panel was composed of representatives from AUD and Swedish Wood, plus an international design expert. The jury announced the winning entry, a furniture piece in Swedish pine inspired by New York City and the Brooklyn Bridge.


The jury praised the design of the winning entry for its concept that attracts attention by appearing to challenge the laws of gravity, while also demonstrating the strength of wood to great effect. The students have done a great job in creating furniture for a hotel setting, since the large proportions of the design is suitable for large open environments such as entrance halls and hotel lobbies. In addition, the furniture is multifunctional, with places to stand and lean on in addition to storage space. The jury also appreciated the aesthetic values of the furniture.


“The winning furniture stylishly illustrated the different impact that pine can have, depending on whether it’s used unpainted or treated with pigment. The contrast between the dark and light surfaces was here used to emphasize the challenging nature of the design,” comments Charlotte Dedye Apelgren.


The winning team is composed of two students Christina and Jessica Abou Haidar, who are also sisters.


“Participating and collaborating in this competition, organised by Swedish Wood and AUD, was very important for us. It’s been an exciting experience that has left us very impressed by what can be achieved with the Swedish wood. We like the strength and the colour of the material,” said Christina Abou Haidar.


Both Christina and Jessica see the win as a great opportunity for their future careers.


“This is the first time we’ve collaborated in producing a design together, but after this project we can see ourselves forming a joint design company in the future!” added Jessica.


The winning entry was a table and seating inspired by New York and the Brooklyn Bridge. The design partly symbolises the sisters’ relationship with each other, as two different people who are woven into each other’s lives. The furniture is made from pine, with part of it stained dark brown. Functionally, it serves as a bookshelf or display stand, as a bar table on one side and as seating on the other.


The winning students: Christina Abou Haidar is studying interior design at AUD, she is enrolled in both Furniture Design and Hospitality Design classes. Jessica Abou Haidar is studying architecture but she is taking Furniture Design course as one of her electives. The sisters are originally from Lebanon and currently living in Dubai.


The second place entry by Nour Nasrallah and Zina Ayyad – “ORIENTAL”was seating made of Swedish pine and spruce inspired by London. Supplementary material used includes a steel frame in black that recalls the typical black railings and gates in Notting Hill. The design also featured a box-shaped section in the centre that can be used as a planter.


The entry in third place, designed by Mehnaz Ara Ahmed, Sarah Mosgofian and Moamena Alfakhori – “FREEDOM” was shelving built of Swedish spruce, was inspired by Liberty Tower in Tehran and can be assembled without any glue or screws as well as taken apart and flat-packed. The shelving unit is intended to be used as a bookshelf in a lobby, as a room divider or as a towel and newspaper rack in a spa. The unit can also be rotated and is fully stable in every direction.