Environment Design

Treetem Pole - Honouring a Memory

Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
— Herman Hess

We planted our happiness way back in the early 2000’s and started listening to trees. Both, the trees, and us were in our formative stages. We’d moved into this new space and wanted to make it our own and one of them was a 2 feet tall Silver Oak right near our entrance on the south east side of the lot. The silver oak grew more than 45 feet tall, and as it grew, it became the essence of our workspace. We’d sit underneath its shade for impromptu meetings and chats over coffee. All our photos featured this tree, just like it was a part of our family. It was tall, majestic and every now and then dropped a few leaves, lending an autumn character to our staircase. 
At some point last year, our silver oak became sick. It was taken over by a disease and had started showing signs of giving up. We tried a lot of remedies, but nothing seemed to work. Once it ran dry, we decided to pull the tree down ourselves, before it fell and accidentally hurt someone. We kept a portion of the trunk intact at the bottom, as a way of preserving its presence. 

It was never the same. Our space felt hollow without the Silver Oak’s charming aura. We were itching to pay homage to the tree that had given all of us so many memories. After much thought, our Design team came up with the concept of a Totem Pole installation. 

Traditionally, totem poles are a significant part of Native American culture. They’re carved out of large trees and serve many purposes beyond their beauty. Some of them represent stories or important event or pay respect to the departed. With these poles, each figure represents a part of the story. These are not worshipped, or even considered to be God. Instead, they represent traits or characteristics of the tribe or story. 

We decided to adapt this concept to honour our fallen tree, and thus was born the Tree-tem pole. This Tree-tem pole would celebrate the memories of our tree, and overlay with values shaping us for the future. 

At Elephant, we pride ourselves on a strong set of values which we abide by in our lives and work. Each figure engraved on our Tree-tem pole would embody a value that we stand by today. The face of a human being at the top depicts Empathy, something we strive to incorporate into all of our actions. The bee represents Expertise, as we endeavour to offer the same level of proficiency as she does while constructing honeycombs. An Eagle personifies its exploratory nature, and Honesty mirrors the kind face of a dog. We chose a cow to depict Value Addition, considering how selflessly she gives to our mankind. The Tree-tem pole is interfaced near the top by a large Elephant head, crafted with a sheet of aluminium, embodying the spirit of Design at Elephant. 


Life sprouts on to this inanimate structure through creepers planted at the base of the pole, which now have started winding their way upward. The old Silver Oak trunk stays visible through the mesh at the base allowing each one of us to get a glimpse of the original tree. 

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