Pine Skins

Pine Skins | Photo: Sarmite Polakova

Enhancing a closer relationship between people and trees

The most abundant tree in Latvia is the Pine tree. In fact, there are 500 times more Pine trees than there are people living in the country, making for an interesting opportunity for a designer to consider. What does it mean to share a territory with so many trees? What would happen if this abundance could be divided as a resource equally for every Latvian?

Different functions

Throughout history the Pine has served very different functions. Indigenous Latvians used it as a source of food, medicine, even magic. In contrast, today the tree is valued only for its soft wood. As a result, the rest of the tree is disregarded. This project focuses on the relationship between humans and trees beyond the limited, economic view of trees as commodities.

Leather like

Beneath the thick and hard character of the outer bark, the Pine’s inner bark actually has leather-like properties. This soft material has a lifespan of up to two years, which this design approach acknowledges. In response, decay becomes a part of the product, which implies that it changes shape with time and use. After its lifespan, the products can return to the soil and enrich it for the next growth.

The design shows different applications while considering their environmental implications. A goal is to strike a balance between reality and fiction, to suggest that new realities are ready to emerge beyond the current, limited way of regarding trees as commodities. This narrative is represented by the objects, organized in seasonal contexts and limited by using the material from a single tree.

Sarmite Polakova