Thursday, February 3, 2011

dewdrop tents

I love when I stumble great design that has a social change objective. The drop shaped tents above are not only visually interesting but are a design intervention developed for the Road Alert Group, an activist group that protested the clearcutting of forests by living in the trees to prevent them from being cut down. The designer, Dré Wapenaar, developed the tent in 1998 to assist the protesters by providing a comfortable place for them to stay during their habitation of the forest. I'll skip the treatise on effective protest and just discuss the designwork. The photo above shows their current use at a campsite.

[I really appreciate when designers show their process work.]

The unique shape of the tents is eye-catching and appropriate. As Fleke Konljn wrote for an exhibition, "The Tree Tents, of which three have been made to date, were inspired by the Road Alert Group in England. These activists chained themselves to trees which were due to be cut down in the hope of saving them. Wapenaar set himself the notional commission of designing a tent which would make their vigil among the branches more agreeable. He designed the tent in the form of a water drop... What a fine picture it would make: tents hanging among the leaves and branches like green tears, a sign of mourning."

Of course, that is a highly romanticized view of the reality of both protest and the design of the tents themselves. According to Wapenaar, “the form of these tents naturally developed itself, when I hung a circular platform with a rope on the side of a tree. My inspiration for the shape was not the dewdrop. Form followed function.”

In the end, I love that the shape of the tent was wholly derived from the function that prompted Wapenaar to design a living space.

Originally found on ReNest and Inhabitat. Images and quotes from Dre Wapenaar.

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