Conference of the Trees by Es Devlin

Es Devlin to hold "conference" of trees as an installation during COP26

British designer Es Devlin will unveil a temporary installation of 197 trees and plant species to highlight issues related to climate change during the COP26 conference.

Called Conference of the Trees, the installation will be presented at The New York Times Climate Hub at the SWG3 Arts Centre in Glasgow, an event running alongside the COP26 climate conference to be held in the city this November.

Artist and stage designer Devlin designed the installation to coincide with the conference involving 197 parties who signed the 1994 United Nations Climate Change treaty, who will gather again at COP26 for 12 days of talks centred on how to tackle the increasing climate crisis.

Creating space for reflection

Conference of the Trees will bring together 197 trees and plants positioned around a low-lit clearing, which will also house chairs to seat audiences attending a series of events held within the installation.

According to Devlin, the project is intended to counter the atmosphere of ordinary conference rooms, which are traditionally top-lit and rectilinear spaces.

"Having read Richard Powers' book The Overstory, I began to consider trees as protagonists, as they are within the context of this extraordinary novel," the designer told Dezeen.

"I wanted to view the conference of the parties from the perspective of a non-human species bearing witness to the decisions the humans might make."

Installation follows previous work in London

Devlin's work will follow her Forest for Change project shown at the London Design Biennale during the summer.

The installation comprised 400 trees that filled the courtyard at Somerset House and sought to raise awareness of the United Nations' climate initiative Global Goals.

Forest for Change by Es Devlin
Forest for Change was an installation at Somerset House in London

"Forest For Change is certainly part of the same evolving train of thought within our studio," said Devlin.

"As Hans Ulrich Obrist mentioned recently, a lot of artists and designers are working with gardens and plants, trying to explore ways of creative expression that can be regenerative and circular."

Like Forest for Change, the trees and plants that make up Conference of the Trees will be replanted after COP26, in this case in urban reforestation sites in Glasgow.

Forest architect Philip Jaffa and landscape specialist Scotscape, who also worked on Devlin's London Design Biennale installation, will assist with the new project.


Conference of the Trees will be held at the New York Times Climate Hub at the SW3G Arts Centre in Glasgow from 3 to 11 November. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.