There’s a very strange tree inside the University of Utah’s Crocker Science Center. It hangs upside-down from the atrium’s ceiling and rotates slowly like a mobile.
This is not a real tree, as you might’ve already guessed. It’s the work of Plebeian Design and Hypersonic, two design studios known for making ultra-complex kinetic sculptures.
For their newest piece, called Tree of Life, they’ve crafted a 22-foot tree from 190 3D-printed pieces. The tree appears to be split into 24 layers, with each layer rotating via a single motor and a set of tuned springs that are powered by solar panels on the roof.
As one section of the tree rotates, it passes the energy onto the next, creating a beautifully subtle illusion of a tree changing shape. The designers say the sculpture is meant to simulate a tree’s wavering reflection in water—a metaphor for how all scientific theories are but a reflection of reality. We say it looks very cool.