Austrian designers mischer’traxler have created a solar powered machine that makes an incredible array of furnishings that vary based on how much sunlight it receives over the course of a day. Titled “The Idea of a Tree“, the machine spins spools of thread into stools, benches, containers, and lamp shades that wax and wane as the available sunlight shifts. Variations in weather, the time of year, and other environmental factors create pieces of different shape, color, and size, instilling the furniture with growing, seasonal qualities that mimic photosynthesis.
Recently displayed at the Berlin International Design Festival, “The Idea of a Tree” draws thread through tanks of dye and resin, and then wraps them around a mold that is rotated by the machine. The spinning motion of the mold is powered by the sun, which means that furniture created during cloudy winter days will be wrapped more slowly, causing it to be darker in color, thicker, and smaller than pieces created during the sun-soaked summer months. Each piece is created over the course of a single day, and is later “harvested” at nightfall.
In developing “The Idea of a Tree”, Mischer’traxler were drawn towards both automated machines and the concept that “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.” In their “Idea of a Tree” project they create a product that is a immediately linked to the environment in which it is produced, and fittingly each product bears a stamp notating the date and place where it was created.