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The idea of a tree [mischertraxler.com] by Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler is a system to produce furniture which encodes the sunlight available during manufacturing in its physical appearance.

The work consists of a solar-powered apparatus that pulls threads through a coloring device, a glue basin, and then finally winds them around a mould. The physical height of the resulting object depends on the number of sun hours of the day, as the machine starts at sunrise and stops at sunset. At any time of the day, the thickness of the thread layer and the color is depending on the amount of sun-energy: more sun results in thicker layers and a paler color.

According to the authors, the idea was inspired by the way trees record their environment during biological growth: "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. The outcoming object reflects the various sunshine conditions that occur during a day. Like a tree the object becomes a three dimensional recording of its process and time of creation."

The project was exhibited (and awarded an honorary mention) in the hybrid art category at the Ars Electronica 2009 Festival.

This post was written by Moritz Stefaner, a researcher and freelance practitioner on the crossroads of design and information visualization. Occasionally, he blogs at well-formed-data.net.

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A short video about the project by designguide.tv: