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Voila! A new partnership that starts on Pearl Street

Sometimes fate opens unexpected doorways to opportunity and that has been the case more than once with World Tree.

World Tree’s CEO, Doug Willmore, and founder of Voila! Creative Studio, Katrien Van Der Schueren, recently announced the unveiling of Katrien’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.  She is also making planters for outside of the building. The wood sculptures and boxes are largely crafted from Empress wood World Tree sourced from President Jimmy Carter’s Empress tree farm.

So, how did a small company like World Tree become affiliated with this world-renowned designer?

Katrien’s company specializes in creating beautiful design work including art, furniture, and custom framing, using materials that have been sustainably sourced. She is always on the lookout to try new materials in her work as the supply of sustainable materials is becoming increasingly scarce.

As fate would have it, she is also a friend of Doug’s wife, Annette English, a high-end interior designer who has collaborated with Katrien on projects in the past. When Katrien saw a post of Annette’s on Instagram about World Tree and the amazing Empress trees (Paulownia elongata and fortunei) it grows, she knew she had to get in touch and try using some of this incredible 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, Lumber Division Director at World Tree

Not only is Empress wood sustainably grown and harvested by World Tree, it also has many other ecological benefits, including being a carbon sequestration powerhouse, and can regenerate multiple times after harvest without replanting.

World Tree is now a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council.  This allows the company to build relationships with over 400 like-minded member companies, many of which are high end furniture and furnishings manufacturers, all 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.

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.

Thanks to innovators like Katrien, and our family of farmers and investors, World Tree is ready to be part of this new future.

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 preview’ of the artwork:

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