What makes a ring so universal?
What makes a ring so universal? Perhaps it is because the universe is so full of them. Planetary rings, orbits that navigate the cosmos, awe-inspiring eclipses and rings of fire. Rings that are so vast that they appear static to us, even though we know they are constantly changing. Rings can be found in less impressive places too. Like ripples on a pond or growth rings in a tree trunk. No less universal. No less a part of everything. Just less dramatic.
Truth in silence
The silently recorded annual growth ring reveals a tree’s progress, but it also tells us impartially about the historic weather and climatic conditions. Not manipulated statistics, just pure and honest bands of fact. Each ring creating rigidity and resilience in the tree, as well as increasing its volume. Each majestic species does this in its own particular way. The colder and drier the atmospheric conditions, the slower the growth. A soft wood from Siberia has tightly packed rings, making it strong and springy, good for construction. Find the same species far south and it will have exchanged strength for rapid growth and acquired other properties.
Sounding out the truth
So it is perhaps no surprise that a designer who really understands wood and learns where trees have grown before selecting timber has a tremendous advantage. Selecting the best material for the job incorporates an extra factor of sustainability. Just as instrument makers tap planks, listening for the right tone before starting work. More designers need to be aware of the benefits of harmonious selection.
A key to the past
The authenticity of ancient paintings and artefacts can be verified by examining the growth rings in the timber that was used to make them. Each period in time has left its own unique traces in the trees that were growing. So things made from wood have a history, an origin and a place in time that predate the objects into which they have been transformed. Future generations will be better equipped to unlock our perceptions through analyzing these choices, so don’t we owe it to them to take conscious decisions?
Responsibility rings true
Providing we manage forests responsibly, and put resources into replanting to match our future needs, there is not another sustainable resource that can match wood. Absorbing and storing carbon dioxide as they grow. And there is no reason why a single species should be endangered or lost. Once we acknowledge the exceptional diversity, it is in our interest to preserve and nurture them. If we design things to last, universally useful things, objects with appeal, made for generations, what could be more sustainable than that?
Wood used in well-thought out designs has stood the test of time. In a circular economy there is perhaps no material with a greater ring of truth.