A Tree Becomes a Book Becomes a Tree

I remember
That I folded narrow and long paper
And stuck it between the branches of a tree
That memory
Led me to embrace a tree
The tree with books forever chatters
Before I knew it, the books became the tree
In full blossom with sprouting leaves

The artist’s poem describes the background and concept of the design – a marketable, functional and artistic product whose design direction is clearly portrayed in the title: ‘A tree becomes a book becomes a tree’.

Tree bookcase. Designed by Shawn Soh.

Book storage doesn’t require right angles and level shelves.  Take Graffititek designed by Charles Kalpakian, which eschews the straight lines of a standard bookshelf to create a wall-mounted unit that resembles framed artwork more than standard storage.  Or the Leather Belt, designed by Kaspar Hamacher which moves away from stiff materials to create a flexible book storage system.  The concept for Korean designartist Shawn Soh‘s bookcase was inspired by her early memories of sticking letters on tree branches.  The result is a rather literal “Tree Bookshelf,” – a tree-themed bookshelf which “changes form dynamically as books are stacked up and removed from the tree branches. Books become flowers of the tree, and indeed part of the artwork itself in its day-to-day use.”




The bookshelf is produced from metal as opposed to wood as might be expected.  The designer’s reasoning is practical and environmental.  Using wood would have resulted in a lot of wasted trees and the material is difficult to recycle.  Costs would have skyrocketed and the shelves would inevitably bend and sag due to their own weight.  Conversely, metal is easy to recycle and highly functional as well.  It is light enough for on person to carry – and can attach to a wall to maximize living space.

Every product takes one week to produce; and every process (welding, bending, etc) is done by hand in the designers own studio.

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