I grew up in a world before internet, social media and smartphones. The world where kids played outside and with each other rather than inside and with a games console. We took old wardrobe doors and propped them up on bricks to made a bike ramp. We filled the paddling pool and had our own Olympics. One of my favourite things to do was to climb up into the tree in our back garden as high as I could go and swing off the branches and see how far from the tree I could land.
The tree in our back garden was the centrepiece of hours and hours of fun when I was growing up.
Skip ahead a few years to the teenage years and my friends and I used to hang out in the local school grounds. We would gather at the big tree behind the canteen. I have endless stories and memories of growing up in the school grounds. One summer we decided to play a game of hunt. We would play every day, and by the end of the summer there were around 30 of us meeting every morning and would play until it got dark.
Fast forward again, and I now live just a few streets away from my childhood home, and in the shadow of the school grounds where we used to spend so many summers. I live with my wife Aisleagh, my son Jesse and our dog Marlow. In our front garden stands a huge cherry blossom tree. It reminds me of so many memories of growing up in our back garden, or making memories in the school grounds and I’m excited to see what stories and memories emerge in the shadows of our very own tree.
I’ve always loved stories, and I love how places, sounds, smells and even a tree can conjure up a memory that takes you right back to that very moment. If trees could talk, I imagine they would have some amazing stories to tell.
So what has all of this got to do with design? I’ll get to that in part 2, but for now…
A number of years ago I wrote and recorded a song called Old Tree. It was a song that told some of the stories from the school grounds and for me it acts as a sort of time-stamp.