Bonsai Tree Table by Anke Weiss


Here's another project from Dutch designer Anke Weiss, this time a table made from 150 bonsai trees.

The trees take seven years to grow. Weiss then joins them using traditional carpentry techniques and coats the structure with epoxy resin.

The flat top of the table exposes the structure of the wood itself, achieved through years of compressed growth.

Weiss also created the Packaging Lights we featured a few months ago, and the Love in the City project we posted on Valentines day.

Here's an explanation from Weiss:


Bonsai - Structure #2 or Bonsai Tree table

material: 150 bonsai trees, epoxy
technique: carpentry (wood-on-wood connections)
measurements: h 50 cm, d 80 cm

This work is the result of a research project about scale. The “network” structure can be found in every scale: by looking in as far as possible (cells, molecules, etc.), or by looking on the natural human scale (veins, lungs, trees, riverbeds, maps etc.), or by looking as far out as possible (solar system, galaxies). Even representations of the virtual world (the internet) resemble this structure.

"Bonsai Structure #2” is a constructed-grown structure resembling my idea of a general aesthetic that should evoke a feeling of recognition and beauty, because it is the product of a ‘new nature’ or cultivated nature.

Another aspect of this work is that it is pure crafts. All 150 trees are hand-cut and assembled by wood-on-wood connections. The epoxy layer covering the wood is also applied by hand with a brush. Not to mention the seven years of bonsai shaping every single tree had to go through.

The surface coating gives the table a very industrial look. On the top, where the material is cut off straight, the underlying wood with its very virtuous and expressive structure (achieved through the years of compressed growth) is visible.

As a material choice the bonsai tree serves as a symbol for scale and heightens the quality of the work with it’s special characteristics. Every single tree is by itself already a design object.

Posted on Tuesday February 19th 2008 at 10:10 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • fBot

    I think this piece is beautiful but how many years of growth had to be killed to make it?

  • Arch

    I have a 9 year old bonsai tree but I prefer not to transform it like this.
    I could only make something useful with it only after it dies naturally.

  • eyeontheworld

    Bad ethics, bad karma. Killing trees is against nature. This content should be removed!!

  • Marcus Des

    Killing living things to make “art” seems to be a disturbing trend in the Netherlands; the Dutch artist Tinkebell strangled her own cat to make a purse out of it. I guess I slightly prefer this bonsai thing.

  • V.

    its smart to use cultivated bonsai trees instead of tropical wood or old oak trees,
    its an alternative to killing the forests!
    still its precious, natural and beautiful

  • meeko

    wow, this is delightful and disturbing at the same time. For some reason it feels to me like candy.

  • mekaratta

    quite artistic, but it should be in art genre than design.

    all comments seems went in the same way….interesting!
    but, I think we should comdemn Quinze’s work than this one.
    (did you submit the entry for Quinze’s book compt.? I did…ha ha)

  • BC

    What’s the sudden problem with killing trees. I hvaen’t seen a similar reaction to any other designs involving wood!?

  • phatphatty

    I believe most furniture that is made with wood is done with a lumber taken from a living tree. So what is so wrong with using bonzai’s. I suppose that you could say don’t make furniture out of wood at all, but then again what are the alternatives? Plastics (petroleum by products), metal (metal mills contribute significantly to pollution). Inevitably any kind of manufacturing is bad for the environment. Does this mean that we should get rid of manufacturing all together? Isn’t it natural for our species to make things which make our lives easier? Or in this case an object that can be admired for its beauty and which serves as a reminder of the preciousness of nature.

  • LeMul

    This is an incredible work, that fantastically illustrates the connection between man and nature. What strikes me immediatley is the mechanistic qualities of the object, and yet we know that such a thing is not possible without meticulous human effort. As a synthesis of human toil, and natural freedoms, it transcends andy industrially reproduced product. A fantanstic achievement!

  • judesert

    yes the ethics are questionable from the standpoint of energy (to make to grow plus the synthetic materials as well)- similar to the arguments about what it takes to raise live stock versus the amount of land and effort for the feed.
    I am not a slave to function BUT i must say this is a dreadful dust-collector and that only the privilaged (in very sense) could and would have this- but then I think they would also demand more.
    Int he realm of “art” it doesnt go far enough and thus fails-
    from the standpoint of efficiency for the same results – the designers might have considered the new technologies of 3d printing more seriously (but ti will still be dust collector-similar to its cousins from the semi adirondack and tree root-stump lounge tables of the late 50s)
    Sorry to be so tough/rough- it “is” beautiful and deserves perhaps a serious look as a “model”.

  • FWheel

    This is amazing. If you’re growing your own bonsai and reusing the wood for these purposes, how can it be construed as non-sustainable? I suppose all products made out of organic material can be construed as going against sustainable design ethics. But what kind of argument is that in the first place?
    Great work and I want to make one for my own now!

  • for the sake of functionality, I would put a piece of safety glass on top. a table that i can’t put my coffea cup on, is just art. (which is fine )

  • Nathan

    @ Marcus Des

    ‘a disturbing trend in the Netherlands’.

    Get your facts right!

  • xtiaan

    so all the moaning hippies whining about killing defenceless bonsai have never used a pencil or anything made of wood huh?

  • Pop-Rouge

    What are you people smoking? Killing things is something that is required to live – do you eat food? I don’t care if you are on a bread and water diet, that bread came from wheat that was grown in a field and then brutally chopped to death to make the grain, and most water is bought bottled in difficult-to-recycle plastic bottles that are shipped from Fiji and such by cargo vessels belching exhaust into the atmosphere. We aren’t going to reverse our failing global civilization if we do nothing more than jump on trends and pretend to adopt popular attitudes. This table should be the least of your worries, considering that it appears to be an exquisitely conceived and crafted piece, and especially considering that in the years that the trees were living, they would have more than offset the carbon used to create the table, thereby negating any negative environmental impact.

  • xtiaan

    yeah, what pop-rouge said

  • tiffany

    took a lot of time, took a lot of effort, being busy with
    typically something a housewife (or a houseman) would made in her spare time….

  • I have just read a blog on “Bonsai tree table by Anke Weiss” on 24 oranges site and I want to ask same thing is it a died bonsai tree roots or else it’s a live bonsai tree? I appreciate if you reply.

  • Manuel Torres

    Apart from killing trees or bonsais, this is a table, right? how do you use this table for eating? you put a glass on the top or how? the bonsais can hold up the weight of the glass? this is really a table or just a ice sculpture?

  • zuy

    Anke Weiss is in the dutch trend that is now a storm, a tsunami of “product design”, “art design”, “concept design” , “sponge design” ,”bonsaï design”…
    The main principes are: accumulation , nature pattern or ” nature product”, epoxy, glossy white…
    it’s provocation and conversation starter… are we IN ?….is he IN? Starck said ” i killed design…” Do you think Starck design killed Starck or dutch design killed dutch design or dutch design killed Starck?

  • zuy

    from NY times “On the opening day of school last month, Eindhoven’s co-chairwoman, Li Edelkoort, made a speech recognizing in works like those of Mr. Baas a new direction. Impractical, conceptual and obtuse were out; solid industrial design was in. ”The time of Dutch design is over,” said Ms. Edelkoort, a trend forecaster based in Paris who speaks with prophetic authority. ”It is now the time of Dutch industrial design.”

    Ms. Jongerius, perhaps Eindhoven’s best-known graduate and head of a department here, said: ”In America, even other countries in Europe, there is still room for the conceptual. In Holland, we’ve had too much.”

  • Very interesting article and even know that table may be in style, but why spend so much time growing and perfecting such a beautiful tree just so you can set your coffee on it. I prefer the look of the bonsai tree as is. How much dose a table like this cost?

  • Yücehan AKDEMIRLI

    very strange