Workshop of Dreams Delivers Spanish Celebration of American Hardwood

12/01/2016 By Jenna Lippin


The Workshop of Dreams is a creative journey spearheaded by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), IE School of Architecture & Design, and Hay Festival, bringing together four of Spain’s most exciting architects and designers, with inspiring talents from diverse cultural fields in a celebration of Spanish creativity and craftsmanship with wood.

The participants have played the roles of designers and inspirers and have been paired together in four teams to use their imaginations and create thoughtful and tangible objects. The final products, made in a variety of sustainable American hardwoods, were exhibited at the Esteban Vicente Contemporary Art Museum (Segovia, Spain) during the 2016 Hay Festival Segovia this fall.

Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Prize of Architecture, brought the project to life when she contacted four of the most talented designers and architects from Spain and presented each of them with the challenge of realizing the dream object of a prominent personality from a different cultural field. She commissioned a striking set of coffee tables from Barcelona-based architect Benedetta Tagliabue, founder of Miralles Tagliabue EMBT; RCR Arquitectes created an impressive and completely ergonomic lounge chair for writer Javier Cercas; Izaskun Chinchilla designed a unique kitchen cart for three Michelin-starred father-daughter duo Juan Mari and Elena Arzak; and Jacob Benbunan, founder and CEO of global branding experts Saffron, interpreted an innovative design concept for a portable cabin from paleoanthropologist Juan Luis Arsuaga.

The skilled craftsmen from La Navarra, a specialized carpentry workshop near Madrid, manufactured the four designs this summer. During the process, they recorded all energy consumption in order to be able to assess the environmental impact of each object using data from AHEC’s life cycle environmental assessment (LCA) research. The results confirm that the American hardwoods used to manufacture the designs of The Workshop of Dreams are an expanding resource and harvesting is no threat to biodiversity or forest carbon storage.