Dutch Design Daily

1 / 5





Basse Stittgen

Tree of Culture

By 17-02-2023

European Spruce (Picea Abies) has evergreen leaves and likes to grow in deep, wet soils. Once harvested it can be turned into wood chips, and then into cellulose fiber by ways of extracting a brownish substance called lignin.

Cellulose and lignin are the two most abundant organic polymers on earth. While one is used excessively in a host of different industries such as the paper and textile industry, the other stays largely unexplored, remaining an underutilized by-product. In fact, to date lignin is mostly burned in thermal waste plants for the production of energy, with all the consequential negative emissions.

This project traces the journey that those two polymers take, back to the moment when the cellulose fiber was held together by the lignin in a tree. In Europe’s agroforestry, Picea Abies, or European Spruce, is one of the most cultivated trees, often grown in large monocultures for its pulp, timber and resin.

Complex industrial production uprooted the connection between plants as suppliers for products and the consumer. It is difficult to hold a piece of paper and see a tree. The objects made in this project are meant to evoke mindfulness and a connection to the source of their material, when held they can hopefully remind you of a tree, the rough texture of the bark, the year rings that keep track of the seasons and the landscape in which the tree grew.

The Tree of Culture is a design-research project exploring, through storytelling and by means of tangible physicalities, the immense potential offered by lignin when reconnected with cellulose, through processes of recombination and rematerialisation of residual matters.

‘Tree of Culture’ will be on show during MaterialDistrict Utrecht 2023
Werkspoorkathedraal Utrecht
8,9 & 10 March, 2023