Forest Dwellers

The Forest Dwellers were designed as a competition entry for the Conversations about Climate Change competition, jointly organised by the Building Centre in London and the Timber Trade Federation.  The competition was launched in 2020, to coincide with COP26 now postponed to 2021, and set architects, designers and craftspeople the challenge of creating conversation pieces from responsibly sourced tropical timber.

The Forest Dwellers were selected as one of 6 winning entries, and will now go on to feature in in the Conversations About Climate Change exhibition, to be held at the Building Centre in London, as well as online.

Each animal has been designed from the timber of its own natural forest habitat, prompting discussions on the tension between timber and forestry, and biodiversity conservation and habitat loss.  Can we regrow our forests to limit the impact of climate change and help to reverse biodiversity loss?  Is it possible to sustainably harvest timber and natural products, contributing to ethical and sustainable economies, as well as safeguarding habitats, biodiversity and the health of the Earth? The future survival of these creatures and countless others, is inextricably linked to the survival of their forests.

As well as asking these questions, the Forest Dwellers are intended to be heirloom quality pieces for both play and ornament.  The component parts of each are marked-out, cut, drilled and shaped by hand, before being oiled and assembled.


Gorillas are native to the tropical and subtropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa. These are the largest of all primates are critically endangered.

The gorilla is made from Sapele with a contrasting face and chest.  Sapele is a rich reddish brown dense African timber that can be sanded to a very smooth and tactile finish



The Bongo is forest dwelling antelope found in West and Central Africa.  Forest populations are now in decline due to habitat loss, while mountain dwelling Bongos are classified as critically endangered.  The bongo is made from dark red Sapele which is a good match for their rich chestnut fur, with contrasting stripes in obeche and antlers from utile.



Chimpanzees are native to the savannah and forests of tropical Africa. They are now endangered with habitat loss being among the most significant factors.  The chimpanzee is made from Iroko with a contrasting face and chest in Utile, both of which are native to African forests.

The Iroko varies from warm yellow to darker chocolate brown, often with irregular and swirling grain.


African Forest Elephant

The Forest elephant is pehaps the lesser know species of African elephant.  They live in the humid forests of western Africa but populations are in decline due to habitat loss, as well as poaching.  The elephant is made from Utile with contrasting tusks.  Utile is a pinkish brown African timber with regular tight grain.


For further information on the Forest Dwellers please visit the following links:

Timber Trade Federation

Tom Wilson Q&A

Conversations about Climate Change