Conversations About Climate Change is a virtual exhibition and event series presents six installations, all made from tropical hardwoods from countries embarking upon FLEGT-licensing, and all are ‘conversation pieces’ that reflect on our relationship to our natural world.  

Conversations about Climate Change design competition and exhibition from the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has launched online with the Building Centre to showcase innovative, playful, and thought-provoking designs using responsibly sourced tropical timber. 

Over 100 entries were received from around the world. The entries were anonymised and chosen based on their response to the climate change conversation brief, celebration of the properties of tropical wood, the quality of their design, and their collective impact as an exhibition. 

Six winners were eventually selected by a panel of expert judges including architects and designers Adam Brinkworth of Brinkworth, Julia Barfield of Marks Barfield and Andrew Waugh of Waugh Thistleton Architects, London-based artist Yinka Ilori of Yinka Ilori Studio, and the British Retail Consortium’s sustainability policy advisor Leah Riley Brown.

David Hopkins, CEO Timber Trade Federation said: “Responsibly forested timber is an essential part of the climate change solution, however, tropical forests have too often been undervalued and their forest land cleared for other uses.” 

David Hopkins

The EU/UK FLEGT initiative helps combat illegal logging, subsequent illegal timber trade and deforestation. In return for aid and technical support, tropical forest countries can progress through the vital stage of VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) which supports the overhaul of their legal and regulatory governance frameworks. 

David continues: “This landmark shift in governance and procurement means that FLEGT-licensed timber is safe, responsible and legal. Our competition asked designers to respond to tropical timber, think about the materials they usually work with, and consider how the role of materials specifier is vital for implementing change. We hope you come away inspired!”

The winning entries are on display at the Building Centre in London for three months from 12th February. The exhibition is online with a 360° tour complete with commentary about FLEGT and interviews with the winning designers.

Tree Whisperer, by Sheryl Ang, comprises a range of tactile tree sculptures which emit pulsing beats, reflecting how different species respond to climate change. 


Sapele Sound Pavilion, by Jeremy Yu and Tomos Owen, uses sapele - traditionally used for musical instruments - to create a pavilion ‘soundbox’ playing a ‘soundscape based on the lifecycle of the tree’. 


Extraction, by Julia and Julian Kashdan-Brown features a sapele column with horizontal holes drilled through its heart, representing the environmental instability that results from uncontrolled, unmanaged timber extraction.


Carbon Print, by Joseph Pipal underlines the role of the forests and wood in sequestering and storing CO2 from the atmosphere. It comprises print blocks in meranti, sapele and iroko, made more durable by using the Japanese preservation technique of charring. “I’ve been uplifted, as a maker, by the simple realisation that using sustainably sourced wood can help with the climate crisis,” said Pipal.


Michael Westthorp’s High Tide makes its impact through its starkness. It is a simple teak column marked with the sea level today and that projected for 2120 if man-made climate change continues at its present pace. 


Finally, architect Tom Wilson created miniature Forest Dwellers in multiple wood species. Having  previously avoided tropical timber, Wilson was impressed with what he’d learned about FLEGT through the competition, notably its ‘governmental level and holistic approach to sustainability, both environmental and economic’.


The TTF helps designers and manufacturers learn more about responsible timber sourcing and FLEGT, and how the materials you choose today can have a positive impact on the world’s forests: email


What is FLEGT?

Initiatives like the FLEGT Action Plan (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) are legal frameworks for sustainable timber production. The aim is to reduce illegal logging and keep forests standing by creating sustainable incomes and livelihoods for local communities, thus reducing emissions and protecting biodiverse habitats.

Indonesia is the first country to issue FLEGT licensed timber to the UK and EU, and others including Ghana are working to follow. So far, 15 countries have entered the formal Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process of overhauling the legal, social, business and environmental infrastructure of their nations. To help ensure lasting success, this process engages with communities and civil society on an unprecedented scale.  Combined, VPA forests cover an area the size of the EU and account for around 80% of UK and EU tropical timber imports.


Conversations about Climate Change is a partnership between the Timber Trade Federation and the Building Centre, supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the Built Environment Trust. All the timber for the winning designs was sourced through TTF members.


All images © Chris Jackson, Building Centre