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How World Tree became partners with a world-renowned artist and designer.

World Tree’s CEO, Doug Willmore, and the founder of Voila! Creative Studio, Katrien Van der Schueren, recently announced the unveiling of Voila!’s new art installation that will be showcased in the lobby of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) offices on Pearl Street in New York City. It will be officially unveiled on November 9th.  The furniture and sculptures for the installation are all crafted from Empress wood sourced from President Jimmy Carter’s Empress tree farm.

Voila! specializes in creating design work such as art, furniture, and custom framing and is committed to using materials that have been sustainably sourced. Given the supply of sustainable materials has become increasingly scarce, Katrien is always on the lookout to try new materials in her work.

As fate would have it, she is also a friend of Annette English, a high-end interior designer and Doug’s wife, who has collaborated with Katrien on projects in the past. When Katrien saw an Instagram post of Annette’s about World Tree, she knew she had to try using some of our wood. She was not disappointed:

“I was amazed that after working with wood for years and years that I never heard of this wood before. The fact that it is a lightweight hardwood and obviously the beautiful story as to how we can reduce our carbon footprint dramatically, it is a wonder wood.”

Katrien Katrien Van der Schueren and Jack Matson

Katrien Van der Schueren and Jack Matson, the Director of Lumber at World Tree

But what was it that initially caught Katrien’s attention?

First, the Empress tree (Paulownia elongata and fortunei) has many ecological benefits, including being a carbon sequestration powerhouse, and having the ability to regenerate multiple times after harvest without needing to be replanted.

Additionally, World Tree is a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council.  This allows us to build relationships with over 400 like-minded member companies, many of which are high-end furniture and furnishings manufacturers, all of which are interested in sustainable sources of wood for their products.

It was clear to Katrien that she had found a perfect match for her values and her work.

“It is very easy to sculpt, by sanding or with wood tools, and for a hardwood, this is pretty amazing…. It is also a very steady wood, it doesn’t warp and doesn’t chip, all very important for artwork, framing and furniture.”

Katrien now intends to switch her entire production line to Empress wood, and World Tree will be her exclusive supplier.

Interestingly, the timing of Katrien’s new installation at the SEC building could not be better. In a move with massive implications for fighting climate change, the SEC is expected to announce new regulations requiring companies listed on the exchange to make climate disclosures, the first update to disclosure requirements in over a decade. The move is anticipated to spur a flurry of activity, including billions more flowing to “nature-based investments” to offset carbon emissions by scores of companies aiming to achieve net-zero.

Watch the webinar to hear the whole story: From the day World Tree first met President Carter, to our new partnership with Voila! Creative Studio. The webinar also includes a sneak peek of the new installation.