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Forests to Furniture: Artisan EcoTour in Puerto Rico


Monday, May 23 5:00 – 6:00

This is a free virtual event

Green­Wood and The Caribbean Climate Hub of the U.S. Forest Service Inter­na­tional Insti­tute of Trop­i­cal Forestry presents an Artisan EcoTour in Puerto Rico. This initia­tive will help strengthen the connec­tion between the island’s trop­i­cal forests, the vibrant commu­nity of wood arti­sans, and will help build a more resilient and sustain­able local economy.

This spring, Green­Wood launched the world’s first Artisan EcoTour expe­ri­ence: Forests to Furniture. 

Instruc­tors Michael Fortune of Canada and René Delgado of Puerto Rico will pool their abun­dant wood­work­ing design talents and deep teach­ing expe­ri­ence to lead a dynamic work­shop in Puerto Rico: May 1525, 2022. Drawing inspi­ra­tion (and mate­r­ial) from salvaged hurri­cane wood, Michael and René will guide partic­i­pants through six days of inten­sive design and furni­ture construc­tion — inter­spersed with three days of immer­sion in the island’s rich tropical environment.

Join The Furni­ture Society and Green­Wood’s Pres­i­dent, Scott Landis on Monday, May 23 at 5pm eastern as we head down to Puerto Rico for a virtual talk and tour with Master Wood­work­ers René Delgado and Michael Fortune. They will share their expe­ri­ence in using salvaged trop­i­cal hard­woods from trees devas­tated by the 2017 hurri­canes, discuss the bene­fits of harvested wood, and talk about how René, Michael, and their students were inspired during their tour of the rainforest. 

René and Michael will give us a tour of the Taller Escuela studio, and show some exam­ples of work being made by the students partic­i­pat­ing in this one-of-a-kind expe­ri­ence. A Q&A will follow.

René Delgado is the founder and direc­tor of the School of Design and Func­tional Art (Taller Escuela) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He holds a Master’s Degree in furni­ture design and construc­tion from the School for Amer­i­can Crafts, Rochester Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, in New York. Follow­ing grad­u­a­tion, René worked for Wendell Castle and then returned to Puerto Rico, where he built a career over more than 25 years as a teacher, sculp­tor, designer and master furni­ture maker. He also serves as a profes­sor at the School of Plastic Arts and Design and the Univer­sity of Puerto Rico. René was recently recog­nized by the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), which awarded him a grant in support of his exhi­bi­tion of sculp­ture from the noble” and native woods of Puerto Rico.

Michael Fortune is one of Canada’s most respected and creative contem­po­rary furni­ture masters. His work has been exhib­ited around the world and is installed in six Cana­dian embassies, but he primar­ily designs and builds highly resolved,” one-of-a-kind furni­ture for private resi­dences across North America. Michael employs tradi­tional wood­work­ing and metal-working tech­niques, in combi­na­tion with inno­v­a­tive bending processes, adapted from the aero­space and boat­build­ing trades. He was the first wood­worker to receive the juried Prix Saidye Bronf­man, Canada’s highest award in the crafts. In a career span­ning nearly four decades, Michael has taught at some of the most pres­ti­gious schools and craft centers across the conti­nent, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Stretch­ing conven­tional bound­aries, he has consulted for Green­Wood and several other orga­ni­za­tions in support of sustain­able devel­op­ment projects in Honduras, Mexico, Trinidad, Tobago and Guyana.

Scott Landis is the Pres­i­dent at Green­Wood Global. He began writing profiles of prospec­tors, fish­er­men and snow­shoe makers – prac­ti­tion­ers of the fading tradi­tions of the Cana­dian north. He has been writing about wood­work­ing and sustain­able forest manage­ment for more than 30 years and is the author of The Work­bench Book and The Work­shop Book [Taunton Press, 1987 and 1991] and the editor of Conser­va­tion by Design [WARP and the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1993]. Scott founded the Wood­work­ers Alliance for Rain­for­est Protec­tion (WARP), which inspired the certi­fi­ca­tion move­ment and led to the estab­lish­ment of the Forest Stew­ard­ship Council. He is the founder and pres­i­dent of Green­Wood, which trains artisan wood­work­ers to produce high-quality prod­ucts from well-managed forests and helps connect their prod­ucts to good markets. Green­Wood promotes appro­pri­ate wood­work­ing tech­nol­ogy and the effi­cient use of lesser-known and lower-value tree species, waste wood and non-timber forest prod­ucts. It has devel­oped train­ing programs for artisan wood­work­ers in Honduras, Peru and Puerto Rico.