American red oak and tulipwood are taking centre stage – literally – at the Guardian Hay Festival.

Designer Philip Koomen used red oak to create a large discussion table with a base that reflects the leaves of an open book, 10 chairs, four lecterns and four occasional tables, while Clare Keil chose tulipwood to provide a stage set design which took its inspiration from images of books placed randomly on a shelf.

The commissions followed a discussion between American Hardwood Export Council European director David Venables and the festival organisers about their aim to use more sustainable materials.

Festival director Peter Florence said he was pleased with the result. “The red oak is warm and exciting and the designs are elegant and creative, with an impressive attention to detail and a real understanding of the unique nature of this even,” he said.

A key part of Clare Keil’s brief was to enable quick and easy installation and allow flexible spacing on stage and Mr Venables said tulipwood’s mechanical properties made it an ideal choice.

“Tulipwood is a smooth, tight-grained hardwood that is very strong and stiff for its weight – an especially good feature for large panels that need to be moved around swiftly without breaking backs,” he said.

The Hay Festival runs until June 1.