Fsc_4_thumbnail_thumb_57 Comp-gallery

GOING WITH THE GRAIN: design an object using sustainable wood


Presented by The Nature Conservancy and Forest Stewardship Council - U.S. (FSC-US).
Sponsored by EcoSystems

Challenge Brief

The Going with the Grain Challenge is to design an original and compelling object that can be made from a single sheet of FSC-certified plywood measuring 4-feet x 8-feet x 1-inch.

All are welcome to enter, including furniture designers and manufacturers, architects and industrial designers.

FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council. FSC certification means that the wood was produced using sustainable forestry practices recognized by the FSC. This Challenge is meant to raise awareness of the importance of FSC certification. It is a companion initiative to DESIGN 21’s FSC Awareness Competition Wood, Paper, Checkmark.

Entries should be functional designs that reveal the beauty of the wood.

Eligible entries are limited to one sheet of plywood.

Entries must be flat-pack designs, either using no hardware, or with the use of up to 20 pieces of EcoSystems: Alpha hardware. For PDF instructions and 3D files of the Alpha hardware, please visit Design Green Now.

EcoSystems will provide CNC (computer numerically controlled) routing manufacturing of the winning entry. The wood used is 1” Appleply, a 17 ply panel that has a rotary-cut White Maple face. In addition to being FSC wood, the panels are NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde) and come with a no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) clear finish.

The winner will need to supply measured drawings for manufacturing the prototypes. Entrants should be ready provide the layout in either 3D or Illustrator for optimum translation from design to prototype should their entry be selected as the winner.


Glue is not an acceptable connection material.

The design must be able to be repeatedly assembled and disassembled between flat and 3D.

The FSC logo can be used but is not required.

Click here for .jpg file

Click here for .eps file

Copies or close derivations of existing designs, not owned by the entrant, will be disqualified.


This Challenge is co-hosted by The Nature Conservancy and FSC-US who are working together to increase consumer awareness of and demand for FSC products.

The Nature Conservancy is an international non-profit organization at work in more than 30 countries to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. www.nature.org

Forest Stewardship Council-US (FSC-US) is the US chapter of an international non-profit organization. FSC certification is a critical tool in the race to save the world’s forests. Working in more than 70 countries, FSC sets high standards that ensure that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way. www.fscus.org

A leading supplier of FSC-certified timber and furniture will be providing materials for the Going with the Grain Challenge.

EcoSystems is providing the fabrication. EcoSystems creates products, systems and services for a healthy planet, engaging communities in collaborative developments including Design Green Now, an ongoing series of panel discussions covering the leading edge of green design.

Ownership Rights

The Designer shall retain ownership of all Intellectual Property associated with the competition. The Nature Conservancy and FSC-US will have the royalty-free, irrevocable, unlimited and non-transferable right and license to use (reproduce, display, and create derivative works of) the Overall Winning entry, entered in the Challenge in connection with the promotion, advertisement and marketing of The Nature Conservancy and FSC-US’ brands and activities, including, without limitation, the Design for a Living World traveling exhibit and the FSC Awareness Campaign. The Nature Conservancy and FSC-US’ rights shall include use of the entrants name, likeness, and other personal information in connection with the Challenge, as well as use of the Challenge design.

Judging Criteria

Entries will be judged on their originality, beauty and utility.


Two prototypes of the winning design will be created, one will go to the winner and the other will be auctioned in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy’s Design for a Living World exhibition. Opening May 2009 at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, the exhibition will feature sustainable natural materials from around the globe. The auction will take place live at an event or online. Proceeds will benefit The Nature Conservancy’s sustainable forestry program.


The overall winner will be chosen by forward-thinkers and leading design professionals including: Sara Elliot, Project Director of TNC’s Design for a Living World exhibition; Ezri Tarazi, industrial designer, writer and educator; Ellen Lupton, curator of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; Andrew Personette, Executive Director of EcoSystems; and George Beylerian, Founder of Material ConneXion.