The Giving Tree
Once-humble trees are inspiring art, design, and hope
Life / 28 Mar 2013
Trees may be subject to a bit of architectural overuse lately, but their value is being exploited in innovative ways that supersede just sustaining life on our planet. Researchers have proposed tree sap as a source for biodegradable plastics that could yield greener packaging, and tree pulp to replace less environmentally friendly cotton denim. Likewise, designers and artists are celebrating trees for their form, function, and fortitude.
New York City of Trees
: Photographer Benjamin Swett will release a coffee table book of trees this April from an unexpected landscape: the five boroughs of NYC. The book, New York City of Trees, features images of some of Swett’s favorite trees, captured during varied seasons. Alongside each tree, Swett relays the story of its significance to its neighborhood and to the urbanites that have lived with and around it. With its emphasis on the cultural, environmental, and emotional importance of trees (not to mention their sentimental associations), Swett’s timely release may inspire a public reaction to the impending budget cuts facing our National Parks.
: Industrial designer Mathieu Lehanneur drew inspiration from a natural source when creating the interior space for new Parisian cultural venue Electric. Working with architect Ana Moussinet, Lehanneur constructed an arboresque arrangement of electrical wires, cables, speakers, and spotlights—essentially, an indoor “tree” of sound and light. Just as a real tree’s canopy allows for the distribution of light among its leaves, Lehanneur’s canopy of wires, which emerges out of a “trunk” of braided cables, allows for the distribution of sound throughout the venue. The latest in a wave of experiments with sound in space, Lehanneur’s is notable for its brilliant biomimicry.
Miracle Pine Monument
: When 2011’s Tōhoku tsunami hit the shoreline of Rikuzentakata, it washed away all but one of the town’s 70,000 pine trees. The last one standing, since dubbed the Miracle Pine, survived for 18 months after the tsunami, but ultimately succumbed to increased saline levels in its surrounding soil. The 88-foot-tall tree was then cut down and rebuilt as a sculptural monument, unveiled earlier this month, to the 19,000 victims of the disaster. The cost of the project incited some controversy, but the resultant memorial has been lauded by those who see the tree as a symbol of nature’s—and humanity’s—endurance.
©The Intelligence Group