Tree of Life

The Kyoto Table Lamp, or Tree of Life © Jonathan Adler
From podcast to tabletop…or how I discovered a gilded and gnarly objet d'art

A recent bout of podcast listening has opened up a vast new world to me. In a circuitous series of loops and figurative figure-eights, I’ve come across some fresh and fascinating voices, minds, ideas…my iPad is brimming with books to read (to do, to do!) and my iPhone is stocked with a long list of podcasts cued for “up next.” So. Much. To. Discover.

And rediscover.

Like Jonathan Adler. I’ve covered the designer’s work and products before as part of my stint as a contributing editor for Western Living magazine (like Adler’s simple-yet-sophisticated menagerie of porcelain ornaments; hello fox), and am familiar with Adler’s particular Palm-Springs-esque vibe. His aesthetic is evocative and full of playful character. Whimsical but always stylish. And his manifesto…thoroughly enjoyable. For one, I wholeheartedly agree with this: “We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants.” (Because, yes, I love dogs.)

So, when I happened upon his guest appearance on the Design Matters podcast (host Debbie Millman has been revelatory for me…more on her insights another time), I listened with relish. Adler didn’t disappoint, eschewing pretention and applauding passion (basically, he follows his heart with a fuck-it attitude).

Feeling his joie de vivre, I took a peek at his website again and found the Tree of Light. Gasp.

The gnarly brass branch, affixed to a supporting crutch with leather straps, much like some ancient bonsai, is a gilded, almost gaudy piece of décor and yet also organic objet d’art: “…as knotty as if carved by Mother Nature herself, but glowing like gold.” Oh yes. I also have a thing for trees and this is like some over-the-top homage to their inimitable limbs. If I had the space and means, I’d make this Tree of Light an altar of sorts. Think brass bonsai Buddha. Φ

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