Thursday Salute to Originals: Nature’s Unexpected

Looking outside, fall has finally arrived. It is one of the most remarkable and breathtaking moments of the year for many parts of the world. One element that stands out during fall in the Midwest is the beautiful trees that shed their colorful leaves. There is a myth that at the right time of day, with the right sunlight, upon the top of each tree is a glistening leaf that turns to gold when it’s bathed in the golden light of the sun. As a child I always tried to find that golden leaf.

Trees are the root of many of our ideas, both metaphysical as well as inspirational. They act as a foundation for ideas, giving us many hints on how Mother Nature designs her natural environments, almost seeming effortless, but most definitely intentional in every way.

Reflecting on those moments, one ponders the different theoretical forms of design that exist naturally that don’t get enough acclamation. Distinctively, two artistic pieces come to mind that possess natural elements not only aesthetically in appearance, but highly functional in the inherent material composition and ability to command the idea of “life” as its basis of origination.

Below are two different images – one is a design project, while the other is a photographic piece. Both act as current inspirations for designers to draw inspiration from the natural world, allowing the possibilities for growth to creep into spaces.

Project: Eco-Architecture To “Grow Your Own Home”

Plantware Eco Architecture

Eco Architecture Growing Home Design

Imagine designing a construct or spatial quality not by putting the elements and components together like Lincoln Logs or Legos, but rather designing it based on future growth and calculated certainty in strength and composition. The above design by Plantware boasts a new level of integrated design concepts focusing on biological environments, living and breathing plants that are shaped and mimicked on the micro level of biological engineering. Their main objective is to generate a innovative conceptual framework that can be applied in multiple facets of design using biological engineering as its backbone. Now as fascinating as it sounds, it doesn’t do much for those of us that aren’t biological engineers! However, none the less still quite a captivating concept from which to draw spatial cues.


Image: Unintended Green Architecture

Tree Growing Side of Building

The piece above, although not engulfed in creative design or screaming innovation, still brings to our attention that even the plants can go out of their way to remind us that sometimes we focus on hardscape too much. In such a barren and depleted wall condition, high up at almost 4 stories, a tree attempts to grow horizontally amongst a collection of solid brick in a crevice. It is examples such as this that make one wonder how it was even possible.


Food for thought: sometimes we designers forget that Mother Nature has some much to offer us as inspiration for design. We tend to only remember the “dead” materials for design such as the stones, metals, and treated woods, and we often forget the “living” materials, the ones that live, breathe, and change over time. Nature truly is the best designer, taking elements that are at once organized and unpredictable. Since being a child, I never did find that golden leaf. However in looking for it, I discovered that what lies between the unoccupied spaces of trees is where imagination, beauty, and creativity all come together.

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” ― Chad Sugg

Image credits: Green ProphetBroken Sidewalk