2019 World Wood Day in Graz & Stubing, Austria Overview


2019 World Wood Day event in Austria was jointly organized by the Universität für Bodenkultur Wien (BOKU, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), The Austrian Open-Air Museum Stübing (Österreichisches Freilichtmuseum Stübing), World Wood Day Foundation (WWDF) and the International Wood Culture Society (IWCS) to explore the theme Change. Great support was provided by local government, industry and businesses along with international organizations and was received with immense gratitude. The World Wood Day (March 21st) observed its seventh celebration and welcomed over 600 participants from about 90 countries and regions all around the world from March 19-24 in Stübing and Graz, Austria. It was also the first WWD event held in an open-air museum in a natural forest that both participants and more than 10,000 visitors could enjoy a natural environment and explore many precious historical wooden farm buildings. The event also provided an unique platform to exchange ideas for innovation and to learn and better understand tangible and intangible wood heritage. An intimate and entertaining concert (“Music of Wood: Austria and Beyond”) and woodcarving exhibition also took place in Vienna on March 26.



Opening Ceremony

On the morning of World Wood Day, March 21st, the ceremony kicked off with Austrian and international music performances, and followed by welcome remarks delivered by Ms. Marla Patek, Director-General and Mr. Josef Plank, Secretary-General, Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, Republic of Austria, Mr. Egbert Pöttler, Director of Austrian Open-Air Museum Stübing, Dr. Howard Rosen, WWDF Chairman, and Dr. Michael Grabner, senior scientist of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and also the moderator. The symbolic tree planting of four memorial trees at the event venue marked the end of the Opening Ceremony.



Stockmuehle Reconstruction Project

This special project brought together about ten participants from five countries. The team included carpenters, furniture makers, turners, sculptors, fashion and set designers, and scholars to reconstruct a historical water mill called Stockmuehle using historical tools and techniques. A duplicate of the “Pahl” mill was built from March 12–23, and is exhibited at the Austrian Open-Air Museum after the event ended.



Wood Design

Wood Design is an amalgamation of many different disciplines, all centered around a common starting point: wood and forest products. For the past four years, Wood Design has continually explored the possibility and potential of wood. Led by Wendy Maruyama, the Wood Design team comprises practitioners in contemporary furniture making, design and installation/sculpture. Members of the team all utilize wood as a problem solving tool, looking for new and unique ways to understand and manipulate it.

This year, the project was inspired by the collection of the Austrian painted furniture in the Austrian Open-Air Museum Stübing. The beautiful forest surrounding the museum also played a part in the design process. The styles of art pieces are diverse but all centered towards the theme, Change, from different perspectives. Traces of historical styles of Austrian decorative arts and culture can be found in many of the pieces. Others were profoundly influenced by the natural surroundings of the museum itself, using natural wood branches to create their sculptures. Highly durable and non-toxic paints were applied and incorporated into the designs of the furniture pieces: while preserving the traditional woodworking techniques, the Wood Design team takes the contemporary route with the material, seeking the “changes” for going forward and exploring the material’s potential for expressing and addressing a variety of concerns in world matters and the need to protect nature.




The 2019 World Wood Day Symposium and the second IUFRO Forest Products Culture Research Group Colloquium took place from March 21-23 and gathered about 90 scholars from 30 countries to examine the theme “Change- from tradition to innovation”. Research findings, issues as well as ideas focusing on the five topics of research fields in Sustainable wood utilization starts with proper tree species identification; Wooden buildings – tradition and innovation; Wood-based musical instruments, Art and Design; Education – an essential tool for forest sustainability and wood utilization; Non-wood forest products, and the IAWS special session with an academy lecture on the history and development of wood technology were keenly discussed and exchanged by the presenters and participants.

In addition, two special award announcements were specially arranged and presented during the symposium on March 22: The 2019 Marcus Wallenberg Prize (MWP) Winner- Professor Gerhard Schickhofer, Institute of Timber Engineering and Wood Technology, Graz University of Technology, and the IAWS Distinguished Service Medal Recipient- Professor Gerd Wegener, School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Technical University of Munich.



International Woodcarving Show

The 2019 International Woodcarving Show took place around a traditional wooden cowshed located within Austrian Open-Air Museum, Stübing. With equal passion and love for wood, 90 artists from 70 countries and regional woodcarvers showcased their craftsmanship at World Wood Day Austria 2019. Austria stone pine aka Queen of Alps was the material provided for on-site demonstrations to illustrate each woodcarver's own interpretation, either as an individual or as team collaboration, of this year's theme "Change."

The woodcarvers also each brought a small wood panel especially made for the International Woodcarving Show to create forest totems. In its second year, the forest totems were assembled on site with cross-program participation from woodturning, woodcarving and young adult furniture making. The creativity and originality of 90 artists not only inspired and influenced each other but to other international and local artisans participating in the World Wood Day event as well.

All the final pieces were presented at the Congress Graz for the final exhibition, alongside other artworks with World Wood Day programs. Participants and public alike were able to appreciate and enjoy diverse skills, cultures and interpretations of Change for a sustainable future.



Woodturning Demonstration

To promote and popularize woodturning craft and arts, 14 woodturning artists from 7 countries were invited to the Woodturning Demonstration Program. Woodturners from Austria, France, Kuwait, Puerto Rico and USA presented their extraordinary skills and unique techniques by using modern electric lathes. Their exquisite woodturning works attracted many audiences to stop by. In addition to modern lathes, traditional wooden lathes and skills from Austria, Morocco and the United Kingdom were also demonstrated. The simple and practical form together with original human-powered way of traditional wooden lathes reveal the great intelligence of ancient people. There were also mini-lathes for children to experience the fun of woodturning under the guidance of professional teachers from the Cool Tool. Through this hands-on approach, children had a closer and deeper understanding of wood and woodturning. The woodturners also helped to turn the tower-shaped wood components for Forest Totems exhibition. The totems combined woodcarving panels gathered from individual woodcarvers from all over the world. The woodturning components connected all these beautiful totems and created brand new art pieces.



International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational (IYAFMI)

16 cabinetmakers/joiners (including 13 internationals and 3 Austrians) under the age of 25 were invited to partake in the International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational (IYAFMI) 2019 on March 18-24. 13 international invitees were assigned to 3 different teams (Team David, Team Nick, and Team Tomohiro) led by 3 Team Leaders who were eager to share their previous WWD experiences with the first-timers. Moreover, Team Austria was formed by 2 two-time IYAFMI participants and 1 new invitee to represent the host country, Austria, and design a special project combining Austrian cultural elements into the theme Change.

All invitees were scheduled to join the museum tour and had an opportunity to explore and enjoy their first day at the Austrian Open-Air Museum Stübing. In the following 5 days, every invitee had 36 hours to complete their individual project and assist their team leader in the team project, whereas members of Team Austria were primarily responsible for their special project. Everyone began the day with 10 fingers and smile on the face, and finished the day with 10 fingers and the same smile on their face.

By March 23, 10 individual projects and 4 collaborative projects were created and displayed to celebrate as part of the World Wood Day 2019. Each and every piece of furniture built by invitees was their own interpretation of CHANGE with elements of their cultural background and contribution to the WWD 2019. The 4 collaborative projects were being exhibited at Stefaniensaal in Graz on March 24 to showcase the level of skills and collaboration work from the project invitees. The IYAFMI 2019, as Steve Bulman, the Project Manager concluded, “we’re more than friends, we’re a big family, and we don’t say goodbye, we say see you later.”



Folk Art and Craftsmanship Workshop

World Wood Day 2019 Folk Art and Craftsmanship Workshop program presented a diverse array of folk arts and crafts from local to international, from tangible to intangible heritage, in a natural forest at an open-air museum with historical wooden buildings. The Austrian traditional craftsmen and folk artists brought wooden baskets, wares, brooms, rakes, wooden toys, haussegen schnitzer, boat and bow building, barrel making, weaving, sawing, historical wooden joints and shingles, reconstruction of a historical special book rack, iron-age splint box, bronze-age staircase and picks. The international participants introduced Automata and Ball run from Japan, Marionettes from Czech Republic, Mask & Rod Puppetry from Indonesia, Arabic Calligraphy from Saudi Arabia, and Chinese Wooden Movable-type Printing from China.

The various interactive craftsmanship workshops and exhibitions were popular among children and adults for its hands-on experience to see and learn from playing with wood. All these activities inspired everyone to find the beauty and essence of wood heritage and craftsmanships.



Music of Wood

WWD 2019 Music of Wood brings you traditional music to folk music from Austria and around the world. During the main event at the Austrian Open Air Museum, about 60 local and international musicians and dancers performed at different parts of the museum to entertain visitors. We also had special promotional events at the city square of Graz where musicians and dancers performed acoustically to the public. Furthermore, at the Island in the Mur, musicians had two cozy evening concerts at the modern Murinsel cafe. To conclude the WWD2019, we had two amazing concerts at the historical Concert hall Stefaniensaal in Graz, Austria. Where local and international artists performed on the same stage with fantastic visuals and sounds.

Right after the main event, we had another concert with international musical groups and a Viennese folk ensemble at the concert hall Lorely-Saal in Vienna.  Besides the public event, we had also filmed several music documentaries with local musicians focused on their relationships with wooden instruments.



Children's Event

The 2019 World Wood Day Children's Event offered more possibilities for children to get in touch with wood and learn responsible uses of wood. The essential content of the program, the Wood Education Class, is designed to nurture a sense of respect and responsibility towards wood, forest and nature. Dr. Yang Ping, Kumamoto University, Japan, gave interactive classes and a series of experiments showing the advantages of wood vividly to kids. They learned about wood through their sense of smell, touch and sound. In addition, children also gained lots of knowledge and had fun in a variety of hands-on activities such as making a small piece of wooden flower, a wooden desk calendar or a small cat doll; learn driving nails, to saw wood and woodturning; to experience many cool wooden toys, like a slingshot, stilts and archery. All the classes as well as games help us ignite a love and interest towards wood in those young and innocent hearts at an early age, pass our passion of wood to future generations, and let them learn about how wood plays a prominent role in our daily life and in a sustainable future.



Tree planting

The tree planting was held from March 21-23 inside the compound of the Austrian Open-Air Museum with supportive assistance of the students from the HBLA School for Art and Design (HBLA für Forstwirtscha). The species recommended to be planted on the event site in Austria are Sorbus aria, Sorbus torminalis, Sorbus domestica, Castanea sativa, Corylus colurna, Quercus pubescens, Tilia platyphyllos, Pruns avium, P. mahaleb (randlich), Larix decidua, and Pinus nigra, as a combination of softwood and hardwood for around six hundred trees. This program allowed all participants to realize and contribute to climate change, environmental change and sustainable development during this activity.



Photo & Video Contest Exhibition

The photo & Video exhibition presented 34 winning photos among the People, Heritage, and Environment categories from the 2019 CHANGE in Wood Culture Photo Contest and 6 winning videos (less than 1 minute videos) from the 2019 CHANGE in Wood Culture Video Contest. The goal was to best represent what has been changed to people’s perception of wood use and how the change is affecting the world today.




This program was specially composed of eighty wood and forestry related exhibitions at the Austrian Open-Air Museum Stübing from March 20-23, including main forestry activities such as logging, harvesting, tree grafting and thinning, wood and non-wood forest products such as bows, baskets, barrels, shingles, wainwright, papers, etc., forestry pedagogy and wood education for all ages, design, archaeological project, representation from Hallstatt and reconstruction of Stockmuehle. The material outcomes of the event period were also transported to the Stefaniensaal, Graz for one-day exhibition on March 24, and will be exhibited at the Austrian Open-Air Museum Stübing for one year.



Museum Tours

The museum tours were provided by the Austrian organizers from March 18-21, to introduce basic information on the natural environment and forests, the theme and then the event venue for participants of each program and project to help them adjust to a new environment upon their arrival in an efficient and comprehensive way.



Closing Ceremony

Following the exhibition of works produced during the event on Sunday afternoon of March 24, the event organizers and followed by brief but touching summaries which were delivered by each program leader or representative. The ceremony was concluded with a short event overview video produced by IWCS and the announcement of the next World Wood Day event by the representative of 2019 WWD organizers, Dr. Michael Grabner, who handed the WWD cap to the Vice President of IWCS, Dr. Takao Itoh, symbolizing the carrying on of World Wood Day. Later at the beginning of the evening concert after the closing ceremony, the District Director of Graz-Eggenberg, Mr. Robert Hagenhofer, also delivered his supportive acknowledgement and congratulation messages on behalf of the City of Graz.



Another successful event wrapped up the seventh World Wood Day celebration in Austria and addressed the importance of wood and the immediate need for our awareness to make changes. It was a good start to make Changes for a better future and regional activities and documentaries will be organized throughout the year in an effort to affect Change. Event reports, documentaries and photos will be uploaded to the WWD websites and social media. We deeply appreciate all the support from our sponsors, co-organizers, partners, participants and volunteers, without whom the event would not have been as successful, and cordially welcome all of you to the next World Wood Day in Tokyo, Japan in 2020!