'The Idea of a Tree': Solar-Powered Furniture Making Machine



For DMY Berlin Design Festival 09, Viennese designers Mischer'Traxler showed off two of their pieces of furniture, 'Bench Tiaot' and 'Lamp Tioat', made by a solar-run 'Idea of a Tree' machine.  Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler have somehow managed to devise a machine that directly translates the amount and intensity of solar energy into very uniquely dyed and shaped pieces of furniture, all dependent on the exact 'flavor' of the sunshine that day.  'Souvenirs of the day', if you will.


 idea of a treeidea of a tree

Made from stainless steel, electronics and plexiglass, the 'Idea of a Tree' machine starts working with the first rays of the sun in the morning and stops when the sun sets.  Viscose threads are pulled through a basin of colored dyes and glue and are then wrapped around a sun-powered, rotating plastic mold which gives the piece its shape. Lighter colors and larger pieces indicate long days with stronger, intenser sunshine, while darker shades with less layering of the threads indicate shorter, darker days. What results is a wholly unique kind of record of cyclical sun patterns, 'harvested' at the end of the day and immortalized in a piece of furniture.

The finished pieces, so far only lamps, benches and various containers, are stamped with a date and a place of origin to further emphasize their role as local record keepers.

 Here are a few words from the designers:

 "This concept was inspired by a certain fascination for machines and nature. A tree is a product of its specific time and place. It reacts and develops according to its surrounding and constantly records various environmental impacts in its growth process. Each single tree tells its own story of development.


This correlation between input and output makes the changes visual and readable. The product becomes a three-dimensional ‘photograph’ of the time and the space where it is produced and communicates certain characteristics of locality. The process is not just reacting on different weather situations, but also on shadows happening in the machine’s direct surrounding.

Each object represents one day at one spot where it was produced. The concept of introducing natural input into a serial production process suggests a new way of looking at locality. What I would like to call industrialized locality, is not so much about local culture, craftsmanship or resources, instead it deals with the climatic and environmental factors of the process surrounding."

 Mischer'Traxler via Dezeen and designboom