Why can’t my café be like a tree? – (Why can’t I think of a less-clichéd way to start this response?)
The tree is a powerful metaphor. It grows, it is always changing and developing, it is aesthetically pleasing and practically does what every ‘good’ design should do, well at least what every good ‘mass-produced’, Modernist design should achieve. What a tree also does is give shelter, supply a home for animals, plants, insects and fungi; it is practically an entire ecology on its own. The tree is an ecosystem. Vaguely speaking, it puts back what it takes away, the tree rots down into nutrients that feed new growth of other trees and animals (fungi, moulds etc.).
Together trees make forests, and even larger ecologies, the system of a tree works on a mass scale. I brought up the word ‘ecology’ roughly speaking; ecology is a system by which something operates, whether that is a city, interior, park or forest. The goal of ‘cradle to cradle’ thinking is to design something in a way that allows you to ‘put back what it has taken’, it aspires for wasteless growth and change, the whole impact of the design needs to be considered, while at the same time retaining the inherent, natural, effortless beauty that is found in a tree.