AHEC: American Hardwood Export Council, presents the invisible store of happiness.

30 September 2015

AHEC: American Hardwood Export Council, presents the invisible store of happiness.

The Invisible Store of Happiness was shown at Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 and brought together two of the UK’s brightest talents – furniture designer-maker Sebastian Cox and sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon – who fused their ideas and skills to create the installation that was presented under the dramatic archway in front of the historic Museum of the Order of St John in London this past May.

The structure consists of a mighty steam bent frame that gives way to thinner, weave-able strips manipulated to twist and flow into a whirlpool of texture and shape.

Sebastian Cox conceived the project and led by his growing passion for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), took it to AHEC as a proposal. Cox is best known for making handmade furniture with sustainable materials from the UK’s woodlands, but his passion for the progressive research AHEC are conducting into LCA led him to Venables. He asked Laura Ellen Bacon, whose poetic willow sculptures he has always admired, to join him for the project. “The legacy of this project is the deeper understanding we now have of these hardwoods. Through this experiment we’ve gathered data that will play a key part in shaping the future of life cycle assessment in a world where you will have to explain, transparently, the impact of your materials,” says David Venables, European Director of AHEC. “It’s incredibly exciting that we have jumped the first hurdle in environmentally profiling any product or project by dissecting the impact of our material.”

Laura Ellen Bacon says: “Having worked on this design entirely from the ground up with Sebastian, my learning curve has been sharp. From the blank page onwards, the subsequent warren of design work and material trials, lead us through a material-based path of discovery.

I've learnt new textures in curvature; to think in a 'new' material and to feel its grain and plot its positioning for both aesthetics and structural purity lead us both into new dimensions. As someone completely new to using hardwood, I've learnt that the poetry and delicacy of original ideas is possible to capture and hold inside an American hardwood structure, just as intended in our 'invisible store'.”

“This project gave me the opportunity to really, truly connect with my material and test its limits. As well as those of my team, my machinery and myself. I’m not always able to challenge my material making furniture but the Invisible Store was so experimental I was able to test the American cherry and maple, find the limits of the timber and push them,” says Sebastian Cox. “With furniture, you design and make pieces without ever knowing where it’s going to go. Working with Laura gave me an insight into designing something for a specific space.”


The American maple and cherry have been crafted into an elliptical-shape frame that showcases fine craftsmanship and impeccable cabinetry on a grand scale with huge arcs of steam bent wood, hand jointed together in mostly glueless draw-bore mortice and tenon joints. Through complex machinery the components of this solid frame are effectively shredded into strips and made supple and weave-able from time spent soaking in the River Thames beside Sebastian’s Woolwich workshop. These strips are boldly manipulated by hand, flowing and twisting into the space to create a whirlpool of texture and shape, all held within its mighty external frame.

For more information contact Mrs Rocio Perez-Iñigo or visit the web site:

AHEC: American Hardwood Export Council
23 Austin Friars

LONDON EC2N 2QPl / United Kingdom

Tel +44 207 6264111

Fax +44 207 6264222

E-mail: rocio@americanhardwood.org