40 Designs Made from 1 Storm-Felled Tree Debut in Chicago

© Sawbridge Studios

For one tree knocked down in a Chicago storm last summer, it was not an end of life but a beginning. From its wood, students in a design course at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) have produced more than 40 items, from tables to coat racks to iPhone holders. We've featured furniture made from storm-felled trees before, but never have we seen one tree yield so many designs.

© Sawbridge Studios

Those designs are the result of a competition between the students and will be featured in an exhibit called Idea Tree, opening June 1 as part of Chicago's Pop Up Art Loop program. The competition was run by Sawbridge Studios in collaboration with IIT and Horigan Urban Forest Products. A panel of three judges selected the best pieces, but all will be on display.

The students, each assigned a piece of wood by lottery, have been working on their pieces since January, instructed by Architecture Professor Paul Pettigrew and Sawbridge furniture makers. The results are remarkable for their quality; at least in the photos, they look well built and worthy of experienced craftsmen. I'm a bit confused by the coat rack (pictured below), but the circles look good, even if they're not too functional.

All in all, it's great to see that so much can come from one big storm and the death of one tree, when you give students some guidance and incentive to create original, striking designs.

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© Sawbridge Studios

© Sawbridge Studios

Tags: Chicago | Design Competitions | Furniture