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. The challenge is presented by The Nature Conservancy and Forest Stewardship Council-US (FSC-US) (FSC-US) and is operated by Design 21: Social Design Network It is sponsored by EcoSystems.

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. The FSC Logo can be used but is not required.

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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.

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.

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 May 2009 opening of The Nature Conservancy’s Design for a Living World traveling exhibit that will feature sustainable natural materials from around the globe. Proceeds will benefit The Nature Conservancy’s sustainable forestry program.


You must be a member of Design 21: Social Design Network to enter this contest. Hop on over and make a profile for yourself. Then you can submit your entry for the contest.  There is no cost.

Application Closes: June 02, 2009 at 05:59PM UTC
Results Announcement: June 16, 2009 at 06:01PM UTC

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine,, Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine,, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.